Medics probe colonial torture claims against Kericho residents

Monday September 4 2017

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony addresses members of the County Public Accounts and Investment Committee on May 18, 2017 concerning the county’s expenditure. The county has sued the British government over ills committed during the colonial era. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A group of medical experts have begun forensic investigations to ascertain the extent of torture meted on Kericho residents by British colonialists, in a bid to strengthen the community’s legal suit in UK courts.

The team comprising one government pathologist, five general doctors and six psychiatrists was brought in by Governor Paul Chepkwony, who has sued the British government for “forceful and fatal eviction” of local communities from their lands to pave the way for tea estates.


Prof Chepkwony has led the community in demanding compensation and the case has gained support of the national government following approval by the Office of the Attorney-General.

Led by Dr Dixon Mchana, the government pathologist, and Dr Carol Shivachi from the Independent Medico-Legal Unit, the team will assess both physical and psychological impact of the torture committed close to a century ago.

“We will be here for five days,” Dr Mchana said, adding:

“We will also treat the victims of any other illnesses like blood pressure and kidney (issues) because it will not be fair for them to walk back home ailing after meeting doctors.”

Lead counsel Kimutai Bosek, who is handling the case with British lawyer Karim Khan, said from over 100 victims identified, about 60 with horrific tales of survival have been lined up as witnesses.

They will be interviewed by the doctors accompanied by lawyers, while more London-based lawyers will follow the details via Skype.

“This is one case I will not relent until we triumph because we have enough evidence that the British killed, maimed and impoverished our people.

"This is not about politics, because I have already been re-elected,” the governor said.

The case commenced after the Kericho County Assembly passed a resolution three years ago approving the lawsuit and allocated Sh40 million in the 2016/2017 financial year for the case.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai, in a letter to Prof Chepkwony dated February 10, but delivered to the County government less than a week ago, pledged to support the case and said that he had nominated senior counsel Caroline Gichuri to serve as a liaison officer.

Governor Chepkwony hailed the development as a “major breakthrough”.

“This is to inform you that I have nominated Ms Caroline Gichuri to provide you with any assistance you may require from my office regarding the stated matter," the letter signed by Prof Muigai in part read.