Home » ‘Abuse’ by UK troops in Kenya, the new ‘surprise’ Dutch PM & other global news you may have missed

‘Abuse’ by UK troops in Kenya, the new ‘surprise’ Dutch PM & other global news you may have missed

New Delhi: Kenya held public hearings this week against the alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by British troops stationed there. These hearings involve people giving accounts of alleged abuse of power by the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) before a parliamentary committee. 

BATUK was established and stationed in Kenya soon after the country’s Independence in 1963 and the agreement was renewed in 2021. According to the agreement, up to six British infantry battalions per year carry out eight-week exercises in Kenya.

The hearings, scheduled between Tuesday and Thursday, aim to “investigate the allegations of human rights violations, including mistreatment, torture, unlawful detention, and killing.”

The four-hearing inquiry was significantly prompted by the case of Agnes Wanjiru, whose body was discovered in a septic tank in 2012 after she was allegedly last seen with a group of British soldiers on a night out. The 21-year-old was allegedly murdered by one or two British soldiers. The case is now due to be heard on 10 July, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, slow progress in the investigation of her death has fueled public demand for accountability.

Amid debates over legal jurisdiction for foreign nationals, Kenya’s Defence Cabinet Secretary, Aden Duale, asserted that crimes on Kenyan soil would be prosecuted domestically. “All criminal acts committed on our soil will be dealt with in the host country, that is Kenya,” he said, according to a BBC report.

Meanwhile, the UK High Commission in Kenya has expressed its intent to cooperate.

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Hong Kong convicts 14 pro-democracy activists 

In a landmark verdict, Hong Kong has convicted 14 pro-democracy activists in what is said to be its largest national security trial to date. 

The convictions, delivered Thursday, are part of the high-profile “trial of Hong Kong 47,” in which 47 individuals were charged under the national security law imposed by the Chinese government in 2020 following widespread demonstrations against the government last year.

The national security law, introduced to curb subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, has been widely criticised for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties.

Of the 47 accused, 31 had already pleaded guilty, while 14 were convicted Thursday and two were acquitted. Sentencing will come at a later date for those found guilty, with prison terms ranging from three years to life for this national security offence, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has indicated it may appeal the acquittals. 

The accused include several prominent figures in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, such as former lawmakers, activists, and leaders of civil society groups.

This trial is particularly notable, not only for its size but also for being conducted without a jury, reflecting a shift towards stricter actions against dissidents. 

The curb on dissenting voices has been criticised by governments across the world including the US, the European Union, and groups like Amnesty International. 

Who is the Netherlands’ next PM pick

A former head of the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) and secretary-general at the Ministry of Justice and Security, Dick Schoof has been picked by a four-party coalition as the proposed Prime Minister of the Netherlands’ incoming right-wing government.

Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) emerged victorious in the 22 November general election and has now entered into an alliance with the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the right-wing populist Farmer-Citizen Movement party (BBB) and the centrist New Social Contract (NSC). 

Schoof, surprisingly, is not a member of any of these. 

While Geert Wilders was naturally assumed to take office as PM, this has come as a surprising turn of events after Wilders said in March that he would not become PM. According to a Reuters report, Wilders last week said he expected the new government to be operational by end-June.

Roping in the highest-ranking official at the Ministry of Justice with no prior political experience or party affiliation reflects an attempt to govern the Netherlands differently after over 13 years under Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s leadership, the NYT reported. 

The 67-year-old Schoof has been a career civil servant and has worked in national security-related jobs and headed the immigration service between 1999 and 2003. He was appointed national coordinator for counterterrorism in 2013 and headed the domestic security service for one year before moving to the Ministry of Justice. 

In a press conference after his selection, Schoof expressed his desire to be a PM of all Dutch people and not just the four parties that chose him. 

“I guess it will be a surprise for a lot of people that I’m standing here… It’s actually also a surprise for me,” he told reports according to a Reuters report. 

Meanwhile, Schoof’s career has not been without controversy. In 2021, the Dutch newspaper NRC reported that under his leadership, the national coordinator for security and counterterrorism used fake accounts on Twitter (now X) to monitor citizens. 

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Haiti has a new PM amid instability 

Haiti announced Tuesday the return of former prime minister Garry Conille to lead the transitional government amid the ongoing instability and political turmoil in the Caribbean nation. 

Conille, 58, was named Prime Minister by a Presidential Transition Council. 

His appointment comes as the nation grapples with severe economic challenges, rampant gang violence, and a humanitarian crisis. The decision coincides with the arrival of UN-backed, Kenyan-led forces in Haiti to help restore order. 

Conille previously served as Haiti’s prime minister from October 2011 to May 2012 under then-President Michel Martelly. His previous tenure as PM ended after less than a year due to clashes with the President and cabinet over an investigation into government officials with dual nationality, which is prohibited by Haiti’s Constitution. 

Conille, who studied political and health administration, has contributed significantly to healthcare development in impoverished Haitian communities. He is currently UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

He will work alongside the nine-member transition council, which holds some presidential powers and was established to guide the country until elections can be held. These elections are planned for early 2026. 

The council was created following the ouster of Ariel Henry, aiming to fill the leadership void and steer Haiti towards stability.

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

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