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Kenya holds public hearings into alleged abuses by British troops


Agnes Wanjiru’s family filed a lawsuit in Kenya over the 21-year-old’s death, but progress has been sluggish, with hearings repeatedly postponed. The case is now due 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, into alleged abuses by British troops stationed in the country.

The sessions between Tuesday and Thursday this week will “investigate the allegations of human rights violations, including mistreatment, torture, unlawful detention, killings”, a circular issued by the lower house of parliament said.

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

A parliamentary official said that a first hearing was held behind closed doors in Laikipia County which includes Nanyuki.

London and Nairobi have been at odds over the question of jurisdiction for British soldiers who break Kenyan law, with the UK government saying previously that 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 said: “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.”

The start of the public hearings coincided with a visit to Kenya by Britain’s minister of state for development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, who met President William Ruto on Tuesday to discuss building ties.

On Thursday, the British mission said High Commissioner Neil Wigan had met with Wanjiru’s family, who have long demanded justice over 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,” it said.

In October 2021, Britain’s The Sunday Times newspaper reported that a soldier had confessed to his comrades to killing Wanjiru and showed them her body.

The report alleged that military superiors were made aware of the murder, but no further action was taken.

An investigation was opened in 2019 but no results have been made public.

Kenyan police announced that the inquiry would be reopened 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.

Kenya became independent from Britain in 1963 but ties remain strong and the two countries have a defence agreement allowing for several thousand British troops a year to carry out exercises on Kenyan soil.



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