‘Illegal and invalid’: Kenya court halts deployment of police to Haiti

A woman walks past burning tires set on fire by protesters to call attention to the country's insecurity and demanding the resignation of the prime minister, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 18, 2024 [Odelyn Joseph/AP Photo]

By Al Jazeera, Jan. 24, 2024

A Kenyan court on Friday ruled against the government’s plan to deploy police to Haiti to lead a UN-backed multinational mission aimed at restoring peace and security in the Caribbean nation struggling with gang violence.

On Friday, judge Enock Chacha Mwita ruled that “any decision by any state organ or state officer to deploy police officers to Haiti… contravenes the constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid”.

“An order is hereby issued prohibiting deployment of police forces to Haiti or any other country,” he said.

Isaac Mwaura, a spokesperson for the Kenyan government said Friday that the decision would be contested legally.

“While the government respects the rule of law, we have however made the decision to challenge the high court’s verdict forthwith,” he said in a statement.

The ruling comes as the Haitian government calls for the urgent deployment of a multinational force to help its overwhelmed police battle rampant violence.

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, with the economy and public health system in tatters.

Gang-related violence has spiked since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise almost three years ago. Between January and September 2023 alone, Haiti recorded 3,000 homicides and more than 1,500 kidnappings for ransom according to the UN. That has led to protests as citizens call for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry over failure to tackle the insecurity.

In October, the United Nations Security Council gave the go-ahead for the Kenya-led mission.

President William Ruto had described the Kenyan undertaking as a “mission for humanity” in a nation ravaged by colonialism. But the planned deployment of 1,000 officers has faced criticism at home, with opposition politician Ekuru Aukot filing the petition at the Nairobi High Court last year.

On Thursday, Haiti’s foreign minister pleaded for the deployment to be speeded up, telling the UN Security Council that gang violence in the country was as barbaric as the horrors experienced in war zones.

“The Haitian people cannot take any more. I hope this time is the last time I will speak before the deployment of a multinational force to support our security forces,” Jean Victor Geneus told the council.

The Haitian government was yet to react to Friday’s ruling, as of the time of publication.

 

Posted Jan. 27, 2024