How sexual assaults by UK soldiers around the world go unpunished for years — Analysis
RT analyzes British soldiers in combat and former colonies for sex crimes
The Detail is an investigative unit at RT that has looked into disturbing allegations of sexual assault against soldiers stationed in the US. The Detail identified over 1,100 reported cases between 2015 and 2020.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), Statistical Offences in the Service Justice System report shows 324 reports of both historical and live sex crime overseas incidents that involved troops stationed in Germany, Cyprus, Canada, Gibraltar, Gibraltar, Belgium, (1), Yemen (1).
More than 100 reports were classified as being related to “incidents that have occurred in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the USA and at sea.”
For the same timeframe, data collected from annual reports by the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) indicate over 820 reports of sexual offences were reported to the military.
The 17 reports received were distinct “combat areas,”Afghanistan (131), Iraq (77) and Qatar (88) are included.
Both militaries are subject to allegations by civilians as well as fellow soldiers and foreign military representatives.
Even though these staggering numbers are alarming, almost no Western media outlets have ever acknowledged the problem. The Times of London covered the murder of Agnes Wanjiru in Kenya, breaking this apparent silence.
The 21 year-old’s decomposing body was discovered inside a hotel septic tank close to army training grounds in the town of Nanyuki in March 2012. The mother-of-1 was last seen at the hotel, with the two British soldiers.
Despite a Kenyan coroner’s court ruling in 2019 alleging the sex worker had been battered and stabbed by “one or two British soldiers,”It took the UK’s armed forces and local authorities two additional years to investigate her horrific death.
In a statement, Tessa Gregory, who represents the Wanjiru family, told The Detail: “They were shocked by the fact that the MoD did not investigate their murder in 2012.
“The family want those responsible brought to justice, lessons to be learned to ensure no other Kenyan women suffer such brutality and long-running issues surrounding allegations of sexual violence by the British army in Nanyuki are addressed.”
The family are now taking legal action against the MoD, attempting to compel disclosure of all records related to Wanjiru’s death, and find out why her killers – who later joked about their heinous crimes on Facebook – were never brought to justice. It’s part of a wider effort, led by London-based law firm Leigh Day and Company, to pressure the UK government into relaunching investigations of hundreds of rape allegations made against British troops in Kenya.
In 2003, more than 650 Samburu women and Masai tribal members came forward claiming that they had been raped in Britain by British soldiers over the span of 40 years. Many claimed that they had given birth as a result.
After a three-year investigation by the Royal Military Police costing millions, they were finally dismissed. Investigators found that dozens of complaints in Kenyan police records were faked. There were also accusations that army units weren’t stationed in Kenya during the investigation. Even British officials admitted that the accusations could have been legitimate and were thrown out.
Martyn Days, the solicitor that represented the women in the RMP probe, later decried the investigation and explained how crucial documents regarding the claims were lost. He wants to recover those documents.
Leigh Day’s action has been effusively backed by Kenyan human rights campaigners. Johnson Ole Karunga is the director at the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation. He stated that if the UK and Kenyan governments were to be replaced by one another, it would not matter. “credible,” It was “now near an obligation”to conduct an independent investigation into the claims.
“There is no way these cases can just be scrapped … We can’t have the army investigate the army. At the time, we didn’t find it credible. We felt it was more about public relations,”The Detail was informed by him. “Martyn Day and other support organizations were not given all of the evidence, but the British Army and RMP were. It’s a question of power and privilege. When we tried to get that information, our lawyers weren’t given access.”
Johnson said that the RMP had visited several police stations in the north territory, where the British army was trained. Johnson also stated that the RMP collected a large amount of files related the rape cases. Subsequently, his organization was told by these stations that the documents were held at police headquarters in Nairobi – but, when asked, mission control claimed to not possess them.
“I think it is a complete cover up. For me, the case of Agnes Wanjiru in 2012, eight or so years after concluding the rape cases, is an indicator there is enough to reinvestigate these cases,”He was satisfied. “And right now you will see that Agnes’ death will give more Kenyan women a voice and courage.”
The shocking past
There’s a long, dark legacy of military brutality and violence against women being brushed under the carpet in the east African country.
After pleading guilty in 1980 to lesser charges of manslaughter, the 19-year-old US sailor admitted that he had stabbed and killed 29-year-old Mombasa prostitute Monica Njeri. He was fined $500. Washington paid $14,000 in damages to the Njeri families, and Frank J Sundstorm continued his Navy career.
Three years later, in the very same town, another US naval officer appeared in court accused of the murder of Kenyan woman Lucy Kabura, a 25 year-old who’d been raped and strangled after socializing with American military types shortly before her death. According to local officials, the offender escaped without being charged. This led to accusations that they did not wish for any disruption in their diplomatic military agreements with the US.
In 2016, when politicians debated the ratification of a fresh defense agreement agreement between the UK and Kenya in 2016, the issue of serious sexual assaults carried out by British troops was raised in the country’s National Assembly.
Many MPs were critical of the inaction of local women to address rape allegations. In one exchange, Kisauni MP Rashid Juma Bedzimba said: “It is a shame the British military base has more social issues than the communities that live in these areas we have set aside for military training.”
“The poorest communities, for lack of water and food, may have to live near these camps to seek relief. This is why those soldiers are taking the opportunity to sexually abuse our daughters,”He lamented. “Because of poverty, lack of basic necessities and other factors [that] they go there … It would be good if a special environment was created near those camps to make a living for the communities living in the area.”
A month later, the agreement was ratified. An estimated 10,000 British soldiers now exercise joint operations with Kenya Defense Forces each year in Kenya. There are around 100 permanent personnel and 280 temporaries. The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) employs over 500 Kenyans full-time.
Britain also offers training opportunities in the UK to the Kenyan military, and British troops aid in Nairobi’s ongoing battles with the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al Shabaab. There are also a few US bases located in East Africa, although with far fewer troops.
With my Five Eyes, I spy
The issue of sexual assault within Western military ranks is clearly of immense concern to army top brass – to the extent that Five Eyes (FVEY), the shadowy intelligence coalition grouping together Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US, has been directly consulted about the problem.
Confidential Exchanges Between the Five Eyes “foreign partners,”A number of military personnel also attended the event in 2020. SAPRO’s report that year reveals the group was set to personally host representatives for the FVEY’s second forum, but it was canceled due to the pandemic, and updated to a “phone/virtual” format.
A short excerpt touches upon SAPRO’s engagement with “Canadian participants”It focuses on strategies and culture changes, while it does not add that the body “regularly consults with allies and strategic partners to share and discuss best practices in sexual assault prevention and response as part of its support to Five Eyes and the National Defense Strategy.”
This was only the second meeting of this nature with Five Eyes. In 2018, SAPRO participated in the intelligence coalition’s first forum on “Prevention and Response of Sexual Misconduct.”
At its conclusion, member nations “agreed on the benefit of continuing the discussion on shared challenges and opportunities, approaches to building future leaders ready for their role in this space, and innovations in victim support services.”