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Kenya Launches Hearings On Alleged British Troop Abuses

KENYA is set to begin public hearings on Tuesday into allegations of human rights violations and abuses of power by British troops stationed in the country.

The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK), which maintains a permanent base in the central town of Nanyuki, is an economic lifeline for the area. However, soldiers stationed there have been accused of committing serious offences, including murder.

In a high-profile case from 2012, the body of Agnes Wanjiru, a young Kenyan mother, was found in a septic tank in Nanyuki. She was last seen alive with a British soldier. Despite her family’s lawsuit in Kenya, progress has been sluggish, with hearings repeatedly postponed. The case is now scheduled to be heard on July 10, according to local media.


Kenya’s parliament announced last week it would hold four public hearings, including one in Nanyuki, to investigate alleged abuses by British troops. These hearings, taking place from Tuesday to Thursday, will ‘investigate the allegations of human rights violations, including mistreatment, torture, unlawful detention, killings,’ stated a circular from the lower house of parliament.

The hearings will also examine ‘the alleged ethical breaches related to ethical misconduct, including corruption, fraud, discrimination, abuse of power, and other unethical behaviour.’

London and Nairobi have been at odds over jurisdiction for British soldiers who break Kenyan law, with the UK government previously stating it did not accept the jurisdiction of the Kenyan court probing Wanjiru’s death.

Asked about this week’s hearings, a spokesperson for the British High Commission told AFP, ‘The British High Commission in Nairobi and BATUK intend to cooperate with the inquiry. The UK-Kenya defence partnership is one of the great strengths of our relationship and our joint training and operations with the Kenyan Defence Forces are keeping both Kenyan and British people safe.’

On Thursday, the British mission reported that High Commissioner Neil Wigan had met with Wanjiru’s family, who have long demanded justice for her killing. ‘The meeting provided an opportunity for the High Commissioner to listen to the family and offer his condolences. The High Commissioner also reiterated the UK’s continued commitment to cooperate fully with the Kenyan investigation into the death of Ms Wanjiru,’ the mission said.

In October 2021, Britain’s The Sunday Times reported that a soldier had confessed to his comrades about killing Wanjiru and showed them her body. The report alleged that military superiors were informed of the murder, but no action was taken.

An investigation was opened in 2019 but no results have been made public. Kenyan police announced they would reopen the inquiry after the Sunday Times revelations.

Wanjiru’s family has filed a lawsuit against the British army in Kenya as well as Kenyan police, legal, and political officials over her death.

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