ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Court case

Britain Can Be Sued For Torture.

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I covered this months ago, finally and thankfully the case went the way of the Kenyans, as BBC News reports with typical English understatement:

“Four elderly Kenyans have been told they can sue the Foreign Office for their alleged torture by British colonial authorities 50 years ago.

The High Court said the group could seek damages over their treatment during the 1950s and 60s.

Mr Justice McCombe said the claimants had an “arguable case” and it would be “dishonourable” to block the action.

Ministers say the UK government is not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration.

The decision means that the government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses at a full damages trial in 2012.

The four Kenyans, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say ministers in London approved systematic abuse in special camps. A fifth claimant has died since the action began.

The High Court heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.”

After Kenya, Malaya.

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The British Government has done it again, tried to hide its crimes and murders:

“The documents, released by Malaysian sources ahead of a judicial review related to the massacre, also reveal how a Metropolitan police investigation in 1970 into the allegations was “terminated” because an incoming Conservative government did not want the darker aspects of Britain’s colonial past exposed.

The plantation workers were shot in cold blood by a 16-man patrol of Scots Guards in December 1948. Many of the victims’ bodies were found to have been mutilated and their village of Batang Kali was burned to the ground. No weapons were found when the village was searched during a military operation against Chinese communists in the post-second world war Malayan emergency.

The British government has refused to apologise for the incident or offer reparations, and last November it said it would not hold a public inquiry into an incident that campaigners dub “Britain’s My Lai massacre”. A recent letter from Treasury solicitors indicates that the government is not prepared to discuss whether the killings were lawful or not.

News of the suppressed investigations follows last week’s disclosure of government reports in the high court revealing the extent of British brutality during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.”

(H/T: Peter Tatchell)

Written by modernityblog

10/04/2011 at 00:00

Her Majesty’s Government And Torture.

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British newspapers were rightly critical when the US government used rendition and carted people off to faraway countries to be tortured, but Britain’s own use of torture is often forgotten.

A new court case concerning HMG’s activities in 1950-60s Kenya should reveal more.

Dave Osler has details:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office – which denies all liability – will tell the judge that the case should be thrown out, because legal responsibility for any abuses were transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.

Mr Justice McCombe will listen to both sides over the next week or so and come to a decision in line with the applicable laws. Not being a lawyer myself, I have no worthwhile opinion on the strict legal aspects of this matter.

Yet the ethical issues surrounding this case seem to be absolutely clear. True, there were atrocities on both sides, to use the classic formula, and the exact death toll is a matter of debate between specialist historians.

But it is firmly established that the bulk of the atrocities were perpetrated by the colonialists, who of course had no business being in the country in the first place.

The lowest credible estimate of the number of Kenyans killed is around 11,500, although the claims go as high 70,000. The Mau Mau were responsible for around 2,000 of these deaths. The courts authorised 1,090 executions, and the use of torture and mass detention was widespread.

It must of course be established whether the plaintiffs were indeed the recipients of such treatment. But if this is demonstrably so, they have a moral right to recompense.

Of course, if Britain were to be held retrospectively liable for the slave trade, the Irish and Indian famines, the decimation of Australia’s indigenous population, the concentration camps of the Boer war, the Amritsar massacre and all too many other occurrences throughout its imperialist history, this country would be skint.

There is an argument to be had as to what cut off point – if any – should apply. But the suppression of what was known at the time as ‘the Kenya emergency’, with the first word pronounced ‘keen-yer’, was the work of my father’s generation.

The PA has more:

“The test case claimants, Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, who are in their 70s and 80s, have flown 4,000 miles from their rural homes for the trial, which will also consider whether the claim was brought outside the legal time limit.

The judge heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.

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Phil Woolas, Corrupt Practices.

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I have never had any time for New Labour or that string of Labour MPs who gladly voted for the Tory-lite measures they wanted to push through, still even Phil Woolas stands out amongst that pack of chancers, opportunists and political nonentities.

Woolas is positively reptilian.

Fortunately, his misconduct during the General Election has been highlighted in a recent court case:

He concluded: “The consequence of our finding that the respondent is guilty of an illegal practice with regard to the statements we have referred to is that, pursuant to section 159(1) of the Act, his election as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth is void and we have so reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“We are satisfied that the statutory penalties for the illegal practices committed by the respondent are both necessary and proportionate, having regard to the seriousness of the statements made with regard to the petitioner’s alleged attitude to the Muslim extremists who advocated violence.”

The judges made no reference to the sanctions on Mr Woolas, although it is thought he could be barred from public office for a period of time. ”

Personally, I would put Phil Woolas in a pillory and pelt him with rotten fruit, that’s what he deserves for his activities. He’s got off very lightly, so far.

Also, it is hardly surprising that Woolas is ranked as one of the more authoritarian figures within new Labour, as a brief extract from his voting record indicates:

Freedom of Speech No
ID Cards Aye
90 days detention Aye
Abolition of Parliament Bill Aye
Trial without a Jury Aye
MPs’ Expenses (FOI exemption) Aye
Control Orders Aye
Extradition Act 2003 No
Government intervention in collection of evidence No
DNA database Aye

The Guardian has more on the full judgement and Woolas.

See the Torygraph for Woolas’ gaffes.

Update 1: Phil, the Labourite cover it too.

Update 2: Adrian Windisch has a Green’s view of things.

Update 3: Political Betting ask the question, when Woolas was appointed to the shadow front bench, Is this the new leader’s first big mistake?

Update 4: Political Betting has more coverage:

Will tomorrow be Woolas’s last day as an MP?

Will the Woolas case change the way elections are fought?

Update 5: The Guardian has a good slide show of Woolas’ election propaganda, I think anyone remotely objective would see the problems with it.

Written by modernityblog

05/11/2010 at 18:36