British government announces compensation for Kenyans abused during 1950s uprising

The British government Thursday announced compensation for Kenyans abused during a rebellion against colonial rule in the 1950s.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons more than 5,200 Kenyans will be compensated in a total package worth nearly 20 million pounds ($31 million).

Hague said the government recognizes that Kenyans were subject to torture and other ill treatment that the "British government sincerely regrets." He said the British government understands the pain felt by Kenyans who were involved.

Several thousand now-elderly Kenyans say they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration trying to suppress the "Mau Mau" rebellion, during which groups of Kenyans attacked British officials and white farmers who had settled in some of Kenya's most fertile lands.

The settlements come after Britain's High Court ruled in October that three Kenyans could pursue compensation claims.

Martyn Day, a lawyer for the Kenyans, said he hopes Hague's statement will be "the final resolution of this legal battle that has been ongoing for so many years."

He praised Hague for having the courage to announce the settlement.

"The elderly victims of torture now at last have the recognition and justice they have sought for many years," he said. "For them the significance of this moment cannot be overemphasized."