The Kenyan case shows that the military cannot be trusted to deal with soldiers’ misdemeanours, write Bryan Cox and Mary Ruck. And William Schabas points out that the international criminal court could try alleged war crimes of British soldiers
Those who advocate immunity for the armed forces (Mordaunt says troop amnesty should extend to the Troubles, 16 May) proceed on the premise that abuses by the British military are always confined to “a few bad apples” and that such cases are rigorously prosecuted by those in command. This overlooks the reality of British military history, which shows that such abuses can be systemic, and condoned by those in charge.
During litigation which ended in 2018, the English high court heard a detailed, well-documented exposition of abuses perpetrated by security forces and the British army during the emergency in Kenya in the 1950s. As counsel who represented 24 test claimants, randomly selected from a cohort of 20,000, we can confirm that the facts were shocking; there was cogent evidence of widespread abuses committed by British soldiers and security forces under the control of the British army. This occurred during interrogation known as “screening”, designed by the administration as an integral component of an intentionally punitive policy of forced removal, detention and forced “villagisation” visited upon over 1 million Kenyans – the vast majority of whom were passive. The screening policy attracted criticism from all shades of political and religious opinion, yet searching independent investigation was stoutly resisted.