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20 OCTOBER

BRITAIN ENDS THE RIGHT OF SUSPECTS TO REMAIN SILENT.

[ 20 October 1988 ]

On this day in 1988  Britain ended the right of suspects to remain silent as part of its campaign against the IRA. This affected both their right to remain silent during interrogation by police and also when questioned in court.  As an editorial in the Guardian noted the following day “the right is important because it prevents undue pressure being applied by the police to suspects” but civil rights concerns were overruled in the interest of asserting state power.

BRITISH GOVERNOR OF KENYA DECLARES A STATE OF EMERGENCY

[ 20 October 1952 ]

On this day in 1952, Kenya’s governor Evelyn Baring signed a state of emergency.  In the early hours of the following morning, in an operation codenamed Jock Scott, 106 Kenyan civil rights leaders and individuals suspected of being overly sympathetic to the Mau Mau insurgency were arrested.(1)

The most prominent man seized was Jomo Kenyatta, the moderate leader of the Kenya African Union, who was subsequently sentenced to seven years hard labour after Baring secretly paid a bribe of £20,000 to Justice Ransley Thacker, who acted as both judge and jury in Kenyatta’s trial. Even the twenty Crown witnesses, who were brought into protective custody, were later rewarded with a financial payment of over £10,000.(2) There was, in fact, absolutely no credible evidence to link Kenyatta to the insurgency, which he had repeatedly condemned.

FOOTNOTES

  1. David Anderson (2006), “Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire,” Phoenix, London p63
  2. Ibid p64.

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