No justice for Kenyan women raped by British soldiers
Justice delayed is justice denied.
Speaking to Declassified UK, Esther Njoki reflects on her aunt's brutal death at the hands of British soldiers in 2012, later finding her body in a septic tank months after she went missing.
“I miss her so much – she was like a big sister to me,” reflects Njoki on her aunt, Agnes Wanjiru. “There’s still no progress on extraditing her killer.
“The UK government isn’t letting the soldier come here to face trial because they say Kenya’s prison conditions are too bad,” she reasons. “But I think it is fair for him to be imprisoned in Kenya.”
Stacey, Wanjiru's only child, is now 11 and has spent the majority of her life without her mother. Declassified notes that against all odds, she is doing well at school, enjoying math while dreaming to become a chef.
The British soldier who was behind the murder openly joked about it on social media. The British public was outraged by the audacity, and thus donated £9,000 to Stacey. However, the funds are being held in a trust until she turns 18.
Since the story was brought to light, there has been little effort to bring the murderer to trial.
Esther expresses fear that military cooperation between the UK and Kenya would be extended; with the cooperation being worth £40 million, 3,000 British soldiers would be allowed to exercise on Kenyan soil: “The Kenyan government said that their contract would not be renewed until the case is over, but they’re still training here, so we are beginning to wonder,” she observes sharply.
Kenyan politicians have been open about their reluctance to renew the military deal. This has prompted Britain's armed forces minister James Heappey to visit Kenya twice since the story surfaced.
Wanjiru; not the first, not the last
Umoja, a village where women have taken matters into their own hands, has seen trauma.
“Umoja was established in 1990 after some of us were raped by British soldiers,” said Paulina Lekuireiya, one of its inhabitants, speaking to Declassified. She is one of the 38 women in a nomadic group called Samburu, living in a woman-only village.
“I was carrying things in the bush when five British soldiers found and raped me,” Lucy Lesootia, one of the village’s founders, claimed. “After that my husband sent me away. I hate the British army. They should leave Kenya.”
Another resident, Rose Lakanta, said: “I’ve lived in Umoja village for 10 years. I feel safe from the British soldiers now. The British have done wrong things in this part of Kenya, especially to those who look after the cattle. The British raped us in the bush – some died, others became pregnant.
“Even those who don’t get pregnant, they have problems. If you’re on your own, and there are 10 of them, they will gang rape you. This causes health problems, especially to the uterus and kidneys.”
Their testimonies are just a few out of hundreds of rape cases in Kenya by British soldiers.
The village is a five-minute drive from the Kenyan army academy where British troops are stationed.
“The British ambassador has never come here to visit us,” Paulina said.
Justice delayed is justice denied
Declassified UK asked a spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defense why the suspect has not been extradited yet, to which he responded: “The UK and Kenya are united in our efforts to get justice for Agnes. The jurisdiction for this investigation lies with the Kenyan Police Service. We continue to support the ongoing work between the UK Government and the Kenyan Government that will ensure the appropriate legal arrangements are in place.
“Both the Service Police and the Kenyan Police Service mutually share the intent to expeditiously progress this investigation and both parties remain engaged to achieve this. Details of any activity relating to an ongoing police investigation will not be disclosed to protect the independence of the investigation and the interest of justice.”
The British army seems to have a sex assault problem: In the last five years, the Royal Military Police have received hundreds of complaints regarding sexual misconduct; only 142 of the cases are being investigated.
This week, the MOD started another special investigation unit which people are speculating comes in response to Wanjiru's brutal murder.
The Defence Serious Crime Command will have “the jurisdiction to investigate the most serious crimes alleged to have been committed by persons subject to service law in both the UK and overseas…including rape and sexual assault.”
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