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Inquiry into claims of British army abuses goes public

The National Human Rights Commission says 43 complaints of human rights abuses have been filed against British troops in Nanyuki

The parliamentary inquiry into human rights abuses committed by British soldiers is set to intensify this week. The National Assembly will hold a series of four public hearings between 28 and 30 May in Laikipia and Samburu counties, including one in Nanyuki, the town where the British Army Training Unit Kenya is stationed.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has reported receiving 43 complaints of human rights abuses – including murder and rape – alleged to have been committed by the British Army training unit in Nanyuki, north of Nairobi.

In an oral submission to the Defence Foreign Relations Committee, which is hosting the inquiry, in parliament early this month, the KNCHR said the alleged crimes must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.

The inquiry was announced last August amid public outcry about the 2012 murder of Agnes Wanjiru, a 21-year-old Kenyan mother of one, whose killer has never faced justice despite media reports that a British soldier had confessed to her murder (Dispatches 22/8/23, Nairobi inquiry on British army conduct reopens old wounds & 1/11/23, King Charles to be confronted with demands for restitution). Its terms of reference cover crimes dating back to Kenya's independence from Britain in 1963, including corruption, fraud, discrimination and abuse of power.

In 2019, Kenya's Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) launched investigations into the death, but the findings were not made public.

The question of whether and how Kenyan authorities colluded with the British Army to cover up crimes is likely to be one of the most highly charged aspects of the inquiry, which had been timetabled to complete its work with a report to parliament in April.

'There is a delayed or non-existent justice for victims of incidents where British soldiers are involved,' Professor Marion Mutugi, who led the commission during the session, told lawmakers.

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