County seeking lawyers for case against Britain

Wednesday August 6 2014

Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony during an interview in Nairobi on May 16, 2014. PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG | FILE

Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony. The county government is searching for lawyers ahead of a legal battle to pursue billions of shillings from Britain in compensation for historical land injustices against the Kipsigis and the Talai. PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

TIMOTHY KEMEI
By TIMOTHY KEMEI
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The county government is searching for lawyers ahead of a legal battle to pursue billions of shillings from Britain in compensation for historical land injustices against the Kipsigis and the Talai.

Governor Paul Chepkwony said he had directed the procurement office in the county to hire a lawyer of international standing to file a case in London on behalf of the communities.

This comes barely a week after the County Assembly passed a motion mandating the devolved unit to seek compensation on behalf of the communities.
Create space for tea plantations

The ward representatives further demanded a public apology from the British government and UK’s royal family over injustices during the colonial era.

The lawyers will be instructed to demand compensation for thousands of surviving relatives of those displaced from their land to create space for tea plantations that characterise Kericho to date.

“The motion passed by the assembly authorises us to file a case against the colonial government for forceful acquisition of land which belonged to the Kipsigis and Talai communities,” said Prof Chepkwony.

“We will do whatever is necessary to get justice for those affected.”

The governor said the matter was widely covered in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report presented to President Kenyatta last year.
INFORMATION IN THE REPORT

Information in the report would be used to support the case against Britain, he said.

It will be the second Kenyan compensation case arising from British colonisation.

A similar suit was filed a few years ago by Kenyans who suffered injustices when the colonial government brutalised the Mau Mau freedom fighters. More than 5,000 Mau Mau veterans last year received Sh2.6 billion in compensation from Britain.

In addition, Foreign Secretary William Hague (who has since left office) apologised for atrocities committed by British troops in Kenya during the crackdown.

The amount that lawyers will pursue in the Kericho case would be determined after an assessment of the acreage involved, according to Prof Chepkwony.

“Our people have suffered for the past 100 years in poverty because their inheritance was snatched from them. We will also be seeking the profits due to those people.”

The governor denied that the suit would allow the government to repossess land from multinational tea companies including Finlay Tea, Unilever Tea and Williamson Tea.