Kenya launches an inquiry into alleged abuses by a British Army training unit — including a murder

Credit Twitter Kenya’s president William Ruto

By The Associated Press

A parliamentary committee in Kenya has launched an inquiry into alleged human rights violations and ethical breaches by a British army training unit that has been active for decades in the country the U.K. calls “our defense partner of choice in East Africa.”

The British High Commission in Nairobi and the training mission have said they intend to cooperate fully with the inquiry.

“We take all allegations made against U.K. service personnel seriously, and they are investigated swiftly by the service authorities or the host nation authorities with appropriate support from the armed forces,” a British army spokesperson said.

Britain has roughly 200 military personnel permanently based in Kenya. Most of them currently are training more than 1,000 Kenyan soldiers a year before their deployment to neighboring Somalia to combat al-Qaida’s longtime East Africa affiliate, al-Shabab.

Kenyan lawmakers in April ratified a new five-year defense cooperation agreement with the U.K. and also recommended allowing any British soldiers charged with murder to be tried locally. The British government has said it was cooperating in the Wanjiru case.

The parliamentary committee chair, Nelson Koech, said in a statement earlier this year that the inquiry “would provide an opportunity for aggrieved Kenyans to finally get justice, and that this would be a critical pillar to the committee’s resolve to ensure Kenya can hold to account visiting troops that flout the law on Kenyan soil.”

The National Assembly Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee has asked the public to submit materials for its inquiry by Oct. 6.

Kenyan authorities have primary jurisdiction to investigate allegations against British personnel related to their off-duty activities.

The British government invests more than 1.1 billion Kenyan shillings ($9.6 million) every year into the partnership.

But some Kenyans have raised concerns about the way British forces treat local residents and the environment in arid, bandit-plagued areas north of Mt. Kenya where they conduct trainings.

An advocacy group and residents went to court in 2021 alleging that a British army training exercise caused a devastating fire at a wildlife conservancy. More than 10,000 acres (15 square miles) were destroyed.

That same year, Kenyan police said they were reopening the case of a local woman, Agnes Wanjiru, allegedly killed by a British soldier in 2012 and whose body was found in a septic tank.