On Tuesday, April 11th, Kenya’s Parliament debated a parliamentary report reviewing the relationship between Kenya and the United Kingdom’s military forces. The discussions centered around Kenyan lawmakers’ desire to pass legislation that would see British Army personnel that perpetrate crimes in the East African country prosecuted locally.
These calls arise from incidents involving British Army soldiers in Kenya. One of the incidents in question is the death of Agnes Wanjiru in 2012 and strong allegations that British soldiers were involved in her death. Wanjiru was discovered dead, with her body dumped in a septic tank after she spent a night partying with a group of British soldiers. The British Army was accused of covering up her death at the alleged involvement of its soldiers.
“This recommendation will ensure that visiting troops undertake their training, within Kenyan Law. We don’t want a repeat of Ms. Agnes Wanjiru’s incident,” said Nelson Koech, who is Chairman of the Defense Committee leading the debate.
The British Army is also facing a lawsuit from a Kenyan community. The British Army has a British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK), which is a training facility in an area known as the Lolldaiga Conservancy. The facility is also known as the Nyati Barracks, where the British Army has been based and carried out training sessions for over a decade.
In March 2021, a fire broke out in the Lolldaiga Conservancy while British troops were carrying out a training exercise. As the people who worked in the conservancy and community members tried to put out the fire, Linus Murangiri fell from a vehicle rushing to put out the fire and lost his life. According to a report by the BBC, the fire lasted over four days and resulted in damage to flora and fauna. 12,000 acres of land were destroyed and reportedly five elephants were killed in the fire. This caused a lobby group and close to 1,000 residents in the area to file a lawsuit against the British Army. A British Army soldier is alleged to have made a post on Snapchat that said, “Two months in Kenya later and we’ve only got eight days left. Been good, caused a fire, killed an elephant and feel terrible about it but hey-ho, when in Rome.”
The British Army has not publicized the cause of the fire and has seen BATUK accused of causing deaths, injuries, and suffering.
Kenyan legislators have also called on the British military forces to share valuable military skills by sharing their vast knowledge while in the country.
“The UK has an advanced defense capability due to the size and nature of its economy, and geo-political position, including its large coastline; hence there are a lot of military lessons that Kenya can learn from the UK,” said Koech.
At the time of writing, no final decision had been announced with further deliberations to be made when the nation’s parliament convenes again.