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Talai, Kipsigis sue the UK over land injustices

Outgoing Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony (left) at a past function. [File]

The Talai clan and Kipsigis community’s case against the United Kingdom (UK) over historical land injustices, has finally been filed at the European Court of Human Rights.

Outgoing Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony whose administration initiated the case argued that the UK’s treatment of their complaints had violated the European Convention on Human Rights to which the UK is a signatory and which applies in respect of the complaints. He termed the court move as a historic day for the victims who were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

“We have taken all reasonable and dignified steps. But the UK Government has given us the cold shoulder. Our people have no choice except to take them to court to fulfil their international obligations,” said Chepkwony

The county government has striven for years to obtain an apology, justice, and redress for members of the Talai clan and members of the Kipsigis community.

“We hope for those who have suffered for too long that their dignity will be restored. We must keep this case going until there is acknowledgement and compensation for all colonial wrongs.”

The victim’s counsel Joel Kimutai Bosek said the applications will be examined by the Court in due course. The application was filed on behalf of the victims by Rodney Dixon QC, Joel Kimutai Bosek, and the legal team. He explained that they turned to the European Court of Human Rights for recognition of the injustices and accountability.

“The UK Government has ducked and dived, and sadly avoided every possible avenue of redress. We have no choice but to proceed to court for our clients so that history can be righted,” said Bosek.

He nonetheless, appealed to the British Government to find a constructive solution that is in everyone’s best interests and which respects the rule of law. The lawyer argued that the forceful eviction of his clients from their ancestral land by the Britons clients violated the international obligations of the United Kingdom.

“To this day, these serious violations have not been acknowledged by the UK Government, and there has been no restitution,” said Bosek.

Some of the world’s most prosperous tea companies, like Unilever, Williamson Tea, Finlay’s, and Lipton, occupy and farm the lands and continue to use them to generate considerable profits. The victims have also been supported in making submissions to the United Nations, where special rapporteurs have called on the UK to investigate the human rights violations and provide remedies including an apology and reparations.

Bosek said a request was sent to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in May 2022, asking her to meet with representatives of the victims, including the Governor was rejected.