Justice for Agnes Wanjiru

The cover-up on the murder of Agnes Wanjiru by a British soldier is our national shame. It confirms how the culture of impunity runs deep in our society, where the so-called sensitive cases are hushed up or met with slaps on the wrists.

Wanjiru deserves justice. Her family deserves justice.

Some years ago, this country was confronted with the case of Monica Njeri, the 29-year old Mombasa woman who was killed by a US marine named Frank Sundstrom. While the sailor pleaded guilty, he was fined Sh500. We protested and thought that this country’s leadership had internalised our anger: that never again shall we casually treat the right to life as enshrined in our constitution.

But the case on Wanjiru is much deeper than we think. The failure to prosecute not only represents a broader failing to respect human life but is an indicator of the entrenchment of impunity and more broadly our failure to protect women against violence — either by state actors or non-state actors.

It’s a shame if this country has entered into an agreement with UK to protect the British troops even when they are in the public sphere. If that is the case, we have to dismantle the structures that not only led to the death of Agnes Wanjiru, but also provided mechanism for cover-up and thus provided the perpetrators a chance to escape justice.

The growing violence against women and the unwillingness of authorities, both in Kenya and United Kingdom, to confront it is an indicator of the decay of the rule of law within the nation state. But we are not going to sit back and normalise violence against women. We have to end the culture of impunity, which has grown within the precincts of our ‘disciplined’ organisations and their foreign counterparts.

And that should start by demanding, which we do, justice for Agnes Wanjiru!