A group of Kenyans have lodged a complaint against the British government with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). They are demanding an investigation and eventual compensation for land stolen under colonial rule.
“The British government kept dodging, unfortunately avoiding all possible legal avenues. We have no choice but to go to court for our clients to have the story addressed and corrected,” said attorney Joel Kimutai Bosek, who represents the group in Kenya’s western Kericho region.
Much of the land occupied in Kericho is now home to tea plantations, which earn millions each year to foreign companies, as Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of black tea by volume.
In a statement, the plaintiffs claimed that some of the most successful tea companies in the world, including Unilever, Williamson Tea, Finlay’s, and Lipton, still cultivate and live on this land and exploit it to make significant profits.
The United Nations said more than half a million Kenyans in the Kericho region suffered serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings and forced displacement, during British rule that ended in 1963.
Many continue to suffer the economic consequences of having their land stolen, according to the UN.
The British government rarely apologized or offered redress for crimes committed by its colonial troops. In 2013, however, it agreed to a multimillion-dollar compensation scheme for Kenyans tortured by British soldiers during an uprising just before the end of colonial rule.