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Cablegate: Kenya/Ct: Uk Reconsiders Ct Training Program Following Accusations of Human Rights Violations

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHLO #2080 2211220
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 081220Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9454
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA PRIORITY 0217
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0395
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

S E C R E T LONDON 002080

SIPDIS

S/CT FOR BRIAN PHIPPS
USCENTCOM PASS TO CJTF HORN OF AFRICA
CIA FOR NCTC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018
TAGS: PREL MOPS PTER PHUM PINR XW KE UK
SUBJECT: KENYA/CT: UK RECONSIDERS CT TRAINING PROGRAM FOLLOWING ACCUSATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills, reasons 1.4 (b/d).

1. (S) Following a July 30 Human Rights Watch report and brief UK media interest alleging human rights violations by the Kenyan military, HMG is "reconsidering" its counter-terrorism (CT) training to 20 Para, a parachute regiment in the Kenyan army, FCO CT Officer Lydia Strachan and Kenya Desk Officer Sheena Lavery told us August 8. "Operation Donzel," under the larger framework of HMG's CT military training program "Operation Monogram," has been conducting basic CT training with 20 Para on an "off and on basis." Human Rights Watch has alleged that 20 Para committed human rights violations in its suppression of the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF) insurgent group in Kenya's Mount Elgon district. According to Strachan and Lavery, no training is currently being conducted, as the training team is on holiday, giving the FCO time to consider its options.

2. (S) As HMG deliberates how to proceed with Operation Donzel, the FCO plans to put three options to FCO and MOD Ministers: one, to cease the training entirely; two, to front load and increase the human rights components of the training; and, three, to continue with the training as scheduled. Strachan and Lavery would not be drawn into speculation about how Ministers would decide, but noted that it could have serious implications for the jointly designed USG-HMG long-term training program for 20 Para, in which the USG would train all 500 soldiers in 20 Para and HMG would train an elite, specialized CT unit over a three to four year period. In their decision memo to Ministers, Strachan and Lavery said they plan to highlight the lack of concrete evidence of the allegations. They said how the Kenyan courts handle the cases victims are filing will likely be instructive in the Ministers' decision-making process. They also made it clear that their strong preference is continue with the joint USG-HMG CT training program as planned.

3. (S) When a group of NGOs (including Human Rights Watch, the International Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and others) previously approached HMG alleging that 20 Para had committed human rights violations in the same Mount Elgon area, the Kenya Government assured HMG that it was a different military unit based near 20 Para and that the Kenyan military was dealing with the problems. FCO Minister of State Kim Howells, who handles CT issues, agreed to continue the UK's training exercises with 20 Para, but with the proviso that if additional reports surfaced the entire program would have to be reviewed.

Comment -------

4. (S) According to Strachan and Lavery, the joint USG-HMG training program was developed "on-the-ground" in Kenya. They suggested that it may be productive for the USG and HMG elements in country to engage the Kenyan military together on this issue and to adjust training programs to include more human rights elements. Early work to stem any further issues may also allay Ministers' concerns and keep the joint training program, as planned, on track. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
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