Kenya court blocks deployment of police officers to Haiti
A judge in Kenya has barred the East African nation from deploying 1,000 police officers to Haiti to lead a UN-backed multinational force to restore security in the Caribbean nation.
High Court judge Chacha Mwita ruled on Friday that President William Ruto and his National Security Council do not have the authority to send police officers to Haiti or any other country under Kenyan law.
He added that the long-delayed deployment under a deal financed by the United States “contravenes the constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid.”
In October, the State Department pledged $100 million to support a multinational force in Haiti after the UN Security Council voted to approve it to quell gang violence in the island nation. Kenya volunteered to lead it and got necessary approvals from its cabinet and parliament.
But Kenyan politician Ekuru Aukot led a legal challenge to the planned in deployment in court, terming it unconstitutional. The high court ruling agreed with him.
“There’s no reciprocal arrangement between Kenya and Haiti and there can be no legitimate deployment of police officers to Haiti,” Judge Mwita said when he read his ruling in Nairobi.
The ruling poses a potential setback for Kenya’s peacekeeping mission to the Caribbean nation having previously supported similar initiatives by the UN and the African Union.
It is not immediately clear whether the Kenyan government would appeal the ruling or the extent to which the domestic legal battle could complicate the deployment of the multinational force to Haiti, which it spearheads alongside Haiti’s neighbors – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.
Kenya’s UN representative Martin Kimani told the Security Council Thursday that his country “has made substantial progress … including taking legal, administrative steps” in its preparation for the Haiti mission and was awaiting the outomce of today’s ruling. Kimani has yet to react to the verdict.
Gang violence rose by more than 100% in Haiti last year with over 8000 victims documented, according to UN data.
“The Haitian people have had enough of the armed gangs’ savagery,” Haiti’s foreign minister Jean Victor Geneus told the UN council while urging a speedy deployment of the multinational force.
“Every passing day that this long-awaited support has not yet arrived is one day too many,” he added.