The British Ministry of Defence underscores a golden rule for all soldiers on active service: They must remember the law in every action.
History, however, shows that forces have been violating human rights and flouting military pacts signed with different nations.
The revelation that a young lady was murdered and her body thrown in a septic tank by a British soldier in 2012 adds to the long list of atrocities allegedly committed by soldiers, especially those attached to the British Army Training Unit Kenya (Batuk) in Samburu and Nanyuki.
The soldiers have in the past been accused of carelessly leaving unexploded ordinances in the unfenced fields of Samburu, killing and maiming herders and their livestock. They have also been accused of rape, murder, assault and environmental crimes.
Rights groups working around the areas where Batuk units train have for years raised concerns about human rights violations.
“The cruel death of Agnes Wanjiru is a strong indicator of the impunity with which the British soldiers operate in Kenya. In 2006, they covered up the allegations of rape against them by several women in Laikipia and Samburu. The British government must address all crimes committed by its soldier,” the indigenous movement for peace advancement and conflict transformation (Impact) director Johnson ole Kaunga said yesterday.
The British government has twice been compelled to pay millions of shillings to residents. In total, 1,300 people who had been seriously injured or killed by the bombs qualified. The payment was done in 2003 and 2004 after a British law firm, Leigh Day, negotiated the settlement.
When lawyer Martyn Leigh filed the suit, the British MoD denied responsibility for the accidents that killed at least 560 people, mostly children, over 50 years.
Later, defence officials in London agreed to settle the claims without admission of liability on the basis that it did leave unexploded weapons in the training areas, but for the mere fact that it used the unfenced grounds.
In 2003, 230 people were paid Sh450 million for either losing relatives, or sustaining injuries that resulted in disability.
In 2013, Amnesty International (AI) and Impact said at least 650 women had been raped by British soldiers over 35 years (1965 to 2001) in Dol Dol and Archer’s Post and that there was a conspiracy of silence by UK and Kenyan authorities.
“Despite the many complaints, Kenya and the UK failed to take effective measures: to investigate such claims, bring the alleged perpetrators to justice, ensure adequate reparation for the victims and prevent further attacks,” AI said.
Samburu women who claimed to have been raped and even impregnated by the soldiers have, however, never received compensation. They risk never receiving any, following the passing of UK’s Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act 2021, which took effect in April.