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The East African : Feb 14th 2015
14 Kenyan police officers and British military officers at the scene where a British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) helicopter crashed last month. Pic: Joseph Kanyi The EastAfrican NEWS FEBRUARY 14-20,2015 DEFENCE PACT TALKS Immunity for our troops not on agenda: UK B≥itish envoy says e≥≥ant soldie≥s punished as Kenya hesitates on ≥enewing t≥oops’ t≥aining pe≥mit By TREVOR ANALO The EastAfrican T he United Kingdom has said that, contrary to reports, it is not pushing for immunity for its troops while training in Kenya. Talks between the two governments for renewal of their Defence Co-operation Agreement (DCA) have been ongoing since July. The new DCA will allow British troops to continue conducting live training exercises in Kenya’s northern region. “UK troops have never had any legal immunity in Kenya and have always been accountable for any crimes they commit in Kenya, under Kenyan or UK law,” said Stephen Burns, the spokesperson for the British High Commission in Nairobi. Kenya has been reluctant to renew the pact, with key figures blaming Britain for frequently issuing travel advisories against the country citing terror threats. Kenya has always protested the warnings as being in bad faith and likely to hurt its tourism industry. At a military expo by Brit- ish defence contractors in Nairobi a fortnight ago, however, Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo said Kenya will soon renew the permit. The British envoy for his part told The EastAfrican that “constructive dialogue on the new DCA continues.” Mr Burns said: “We are confident of a successful and rapid outcome that will reflect the positions and requirements of the Kenyan and UK governments.” Senior Kenyan govern- ment officials had demanded the suspension of the travel warnings for the permit to be renewed. As a result, more than 1,000 British soldiers who had completed training were stranded in Kenya last year following a delay in clearing their replacements. The pact has allowed six infantry battalions of the British Army to carry out annual six-week exercises in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, for decades. Nanyuki is seen as ideal location because the ACCUSATIONS The conduct of some British Army soldiers while training in Kenya has been a sticking point in UK-Kenya defence ties. With the British troops being accused of raping more than 600 women in the past 30 years, the UK could face compensation fees of up to $30 million, according to Leigh Day, the British law firm that recently won a $21 million settlement for 5,000 Mau Mau freedom fighters. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is handling a case where a British officer reportedly assaulted a Kenyan police officer in Nairobi’s Runda suburb and threatened to stab his own guard two years ago. In 2012, several people were injured when more than 200 British soldiers were involved in a bar brawl with local residents in Nanyuki. Last year, a four-year-old boy was seriously injured by unexploded munitions allegedly left behind by the British soldiers in Samburu County, which borders Laikipia. dusty and barren terrain resembles that of Afghanistan, where British troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban. Also, three Royal Engineer squadrons carry out civil engineering projects while two Medical Company deployments provide primary healthcare to civilians. “We have every expecta- tion that our long-shared tradition of military co-operation will continue for decades to come and in the process deliver a more stable and secure Kenya,” Mr Burns told The EastAfrican. Last year, the UK spent $95 million on military support to Kenya, with $76 million going directly into the economy and the remainder into joint training with local security forces, including operational and equipment assistance and community projects.
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