British Military evade justice for rape in Kenya

By The Ligali Organisation | Mon 18 December 2006

A three year investigation into the rape of hundreds of Kenyan women by British soldiers over three decades has ended in disarray after the Ministry of Defence claimed the rapes were fabricated.


The three million pound inquiry into the rape of approximately 600 Masai and Samburu women by British soldiers was concluded after the Royal Military Police (RMP) claimed “There is no reliable evidence to support any single allegation made which would stand up to the Crown Prosecution Service evidence test and lead to a prosecution against any named individual”. The officials from the RMP, who interviewed over two thousand women, accused the African women of being prostitutes and fabricating Police complaints.

Many of the women protested at a demonstration with their dual heritage African children as ‘evidence’ of the British rapes. Of the women that were raped, 69 children were born and are now aged between 3 and 41 years old. In a petition to the High Commissioner, the women highlight the social ostracism they and their children face as a result of the British rapes; "The stigma attached to us as women raped by white men is bad enough, but for our children, the situation is worse as a result of their (skin) colour. Our children stick out like sore thumbs...."

Human rights groups in Kenya are outraged. Johnson ole Kaunga, of the Impact human rights group challenged the decision in face of “concrete evidence," and remarked on the three years and millions wasted in “British taxpayers money” to subvert justice. Maina Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, stated that an independent body like the United Nations or indeed, the Kenyan Government themselves should have conducted the investigation; He said "[i]t is not surprising that the British would find themselves innocent... It is like asking the police to police themselves.”

Kenyan women march to the British High Commission in 2003 to present a petition on behalf of the Masai and Samburu women raped by British soldiers


Evidence suggests guilt

In March 2003, the discovery of minutes of a three-hour meeting between Masai leaders, British Army officers and the Kenyan District Commissioner was reported in the Guardian newspaper and revealed how the Army knew about rape claims as far back as 1983. This was significant because the British Military was asserting that the women’s claims were a recent attempt to get on the ‘compensation bandwagon’ and the meeting demolishes this argument.

Other evidence from the 1970’s was recovered from police and hospital records detailing medical cards with admission details such as 'Raped by gang of white soldiers' from women suffering from severe bleeding to abdominal pains and collapse. One card recorded an abortion carried out on a woman four months pregnant 'due to mass rape by British soldiers'.

The survivors of the rape assaults have often described the humiliation of their assault which has not been compounded by the bizarre ruling by the BMP. In an article for Women against Rape, Karamas Walebutunui says "I saw the men coming and I started running away but then they started emerging from the bush. I tried to scream and cry but there was no one to help me. When they got hold of me, five men raped me. That's all I remember." During the investigation, the body of 16 year old Mantoi Kaunda, was also exhumed following her parents claim that she was raped by British soldiers and later died as a result of the attack.

Johnson ole Kaunga added "It is a sad day for women of Kenya, our mothers and daughters. The investigations were never about getting justice for the women but whitewashing the actions of the British Army. They were the accused, they investigated themselves and this is their report".

Many of the women are now planning to seek justice in local African courts.


External Links
New evidence backs rape by soldiers
Guardian - British soldiers cleared of rapes in Kenya
The Standard - Britain accused of shielding rape suspects


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"[i]t is not surprising that the British would find themselves innocent... It is like asking the police to police themselves.”

Maina Kiai, chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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