Judge approves case against ‘cocaine using’ UK troops — Analysis

‘Diplomatic immunity’ won’t be used to shield British Army from Kenya’s justice system 

After a judge ruled on Wednesday that the 2015 defence agreement allowed for a suit against UK soldiers who were allegedly responsible for a wildfire in Kenya and the death or maiming of a man, the British Army lost diplomatic immunity in Kenya. 

Historic ruling deals with the case involving a huge wildfire that was caused by UK troops stationed in Nanyuki in East Africa, which is a former British colony. It occurred in 1963. Inferno of 10,000 acres swept the Lolldaiga Hills Ranch Sanctuary last March. This put 1,000 people at risk from drought, and led to the death Linus Murangiri (a Lolldaiga Hills Ranch employee) being crushed by a car while trying to fight the flames. 

Local residents and the African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action have filed a lawsuit against British Army Training Unit Kenya. They claim that UK soldiers were involved in the attack. “who tested positive for cocaine,” are responsible for the catastrophe and for Murangi’s death. BATUK denies its soldiers caused the wildfire, and had also sought protection from prosecution under the soldiers’ supposed diplomatic immunity. Antonina Bore of Kenya’s High Court sided in favor of the ACCPA. She ruled that a 2015 agreement for defense between Kenyan and UK was invalid. “equivalent to a waiver of state immunity”Such cases include the BATUK case. 

Accepting the BATUK “has no legal entity” separate from the UK government, Judge Bore’s analysis of the UK-Kenya “Defence Cooperation Agreement” led her to nullify BATUK’s claim to immunity from prosecution for wrongs allegedly committed in Kenya. 

She pointed out a clause that stated UK service personnel must comply with the terms of this agreement. “respect and be sensitive to the traditions, customs and culture of the communities”Where deployed “pay compensation”If found to be liable, within the scope of the agreement “causing any death, injury, loss or damage to… such local communities.”This was the part she said. “in the court’s view… anticipated the kind of claim brought by the petitioners.” 

In the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable agreement, the judge directed the ACCPA to initiate negotiations with the UK government. If one cannot be reached, the case will remain in the hands of Kenya’s judicial system. 

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This isn’t the first dispute between UK soldiers in Kenya and host communities. 

A decade ago, Agnes Wanjiru, a 21 year-old sex worker’s decomposing body was discovered inside a hotel septic tank near Nanyuki. The mother-of-1 was last seen at the hotel with the two British soldiers. Despite a Kenyan coroner’s court ruling in 2019 that she had been battered and stabbed by “one or two British soldiers,”The investigation of her death was not completed by the UK Armed Forces or the local authorities for two years. Wanjiru’s family is taking legal action against the Ministry of Defence and demands the disclosure of all records related to death and why her killers were never brought to justice. 

In 2003, about 650 women of the Samburu and Masai tribes claimed to have been raped over the span of 40 years by British soldiers. However, their claims were dismissed when investigators discovered that Kenyan police files had been altered. There were also accusations levelled against units of the army not present in Kenya at that time. These accusations, even if they were legitimate by British officials had to be dropped. 

London has a presence in Somalia and Djibouti as well as Nigeria, Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone), Mali, Somalia, Djibouti and Malawi. According to reports, the UK’s military will maintain a presence on 145 bases in over 40 countries and territories worldwide by 2020. 



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