Kenya's judiciary temporarily blocks police deployment to Haiti

Le juriste et constitionnaliste kényan Ekuru Aukot. PHOTO/Courtesy

By Jérome Wendy Norestyl, Wethzer Piercin & Fenel Pélissier, Ayibopost, Oct. 7, 2023

The Kenyan Judicial High Court has imposed a ban on the deployment of the Multinational Security Support Force (MSS) in Haiti until October 24 2023, following a petition lodged by the Alliance troisième voie political party led by Ekuru Aukot and other Kenyan politicians.

According to a document obtained by AyiboPost, this blockade comes into effect on Monday October 9, pending the submission of written arguments by the parties prior to a final decision. In the meantime, the government cannot deploy any forces to Haiti or any other country.

Constitutionalist Ekuru Aukot, who participated in the drafting of the 2010 constitution, is categorically opposed to any intervention in Haiti. In an interview with AyiboPost, he calls his country's government decision "illegal and unconstitutional".

"Kenyans are totally opposed to this mission, as it goes against our constitution and the Police Service Act", he says, pointing out that articles 239 and 240 of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution lay down the procedures for any mission on foreign soil.

Aukot told AyiboPost that, according to the Kenyan Constitution, only the army can intervene in a foreign country after parliamentary approval.

Ayibopost researchers also noted sections 107 and 108 of the National Police Service Act require a reciprocal request between the two countries before a force can even be sent into another territory.

The intervention currently being planned appears to ignore these legal provisions. The Haitian authorities "have never presented this request to the Kenyan government", Ekuru Aukot explained.

The Haitian government did not respond to a request for comment from AyiboPost.

"We think the USA is using our president to do their dirty work in Haiti", Aukot concluded, insinuating that the mission will be suicidal.

The intervention currently being planned seems to ignore legal provisions. The Haitian authorities "have never presented this request to the Kenyan government", he explained.

The UN Security Council resolution authorizing the deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission (MMS) in Haiti constitutes a failure to comply with legal procedures, Kenyan officials told AyiboPost.

On Monday October 2, 2023, the UN Security Council voted almost unanimously, 13 in favor and 2 abstentions, in favor of the resolution introduced by the United States and Ecuador, authorizing the deployment of a multinational force in Haiti.

Contacted by AyiboPost, Narok County Senator Ledama Olekina is very critical of President William Ruto. He believes the head of state represents a puppet of the United States of America seeking international recognition while ignoring the problems of his own country.

"The United States has seen in William Ruto someone it can use to settle its own affairs", says the Kenyan senator, who regrets that the president has used his power to decide on this matter without first consulting parliament.

"There's nothing more we can do in this situation. I think the Americans already have President William Ruto in their pockets. And the President already has his majority in parliament under his control", explains the politician.

Usually, Kenyan troops are involved in UN peacekeeping missions, either regionally or with other international partners.

The country is known for its interventions in Somalia against Al Shebab in 2011 and in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to combat the M23 rebels in November 2022.

Kenya is viewed as a stabilizing force in East Africa, due to the involvement of its troops in peacekeeping in the region.

In October 2022, the Haitian government made a request to the United Nations for a specialized international force and police technical assistance to help the national police fight armed gangs.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his letter of October 8, 2022 and his report in April 2023, as well as CARICOM through Jamaica, underlined in July 2023 the urgency for the Standing Committee to decide on the situation in Haiti.

On July 29, 2023, Kenya announced that it had agreed to lead the MSS Mission in Haiti.

At its 78th General Assembly on October 2, 2023, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of this multinational force for a twelve-month period in Haiti.

This mission comes at a time when Kenya is struggling to maintain its internal security, according to Kenyan citizens interviewed by AyiboPost.

In 2009, the UN stated that Kenya had one policeman for every 1,150 inhabitants. The UN recommends one policeman for every 450 inhabitants, reflecting the chronic understaffing of this police force.

"I come from northern Kenya, we urgently need security; but our government has not been able to provide it," Aukot explained.

Macharia Munene, a researcher at the Horn Institute for Strategic Studies in Nairobi, believes that the decision to send the Kenyan police to Haiti is a complicated one, and does not seem to have been very well thought through.

"The decision seems to have been taken in haste, without taking into account many complications: distance, cultural differences, language and whether people want it or not," Macharia Munene told AyiboPost.

According to the researcher, Kenya is helping the USA to meet its policy goals in Haiti, thus becoming an assistant to U.S. policy. Not a good thing, in his view. Professor Macharia Munene also believes that Kenya is trying to create a link with Haiti under the aegis of the USA.

Kenyan filmmaker Thuku Kariuk shared his views with AyiboPost, explaining that."I don't like the idea of Kenya sending troops to Haiti at all. I think Kenya is simply being coerced by the US and other members of the international community to do so in exchange for money in the form of easy loans."

The entrepreneur and CEO of Village Green in Kenya believes that his country must first solve its own security problems, before helping other countries with security problems.

AyiboPost unsuccessfully contacted officials in William Ruto's government for answers to Kenyan citizens' criticisms.

Security challenges linked in particular to armed gangs, banditry and terrorism by the Somali group Al Shebab, which claimed more than twenty lives between June 3 and 24, 2023, are a concern for Kenyans.

"Parliament's involvement is unclear; it apparently wasn't consulted. The people who do have a say also seem skeptical about it," Professor Munene tells AyiboPost.

Hussein Khalid is a lawyer and Managing Director of Haki Africa, a pan-African human rights organization based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Khalid believes the decision to send Kenyan police officers to Haiti is "inappropriate and has no legal or rational basis".

According to Khalid, Kenya is lagging far behind when it comes to respecting human rights. In particular, he cites extrajudicial killings, disappearances and other flagrant human rights violations.

"What we have here is a poorly managed socio-political situation. As we speak, we are still faced with communal conflicts along our internal borders, and we are still fighting Islamic insurgencies on the Somali border. Human rights are not respected in Kenya," Thuku Kariuki told AyiboPost.

"If people complain, they are silenced by unnecessary force so that the ruling class can feel safe and continue to abuse the rights of the people. Kenya has a very long way to go when it comes to human rights. Hardly a week goes by without an altercation between police and citizens resulting in several deaths", he concludes.

This year, in just three months, police have shot dead more than 50 demonstrators in Kenya, reports the opposition coalition Azimio. A figure that state officials put at around 20.

According to Hussein Khalid, Kenyan citizens are still wondering what could have led their country to volunteer to lead this intervention in Haiti in the face of such a context.

"There are other countries like Canada, France and the USA, which are partly responsible for what is happening [in Haiti] and which are geographically, technically and economically better suited to take the lead in such an initiative," he continued.

"When you consider that these same countries have failed at multiple previous initiatives," he explains, "we wonder what will happen to this new intervention in a context where insecurity issues are taking increasingly worrying turns in Haiti."

Other questions remain unanswered.

For Khalid Hussein, Executive Director of "Haki International", well before the financial and material arrangements necessary for the mission, the United Nations should urgently address the question of the financing mechanisms of armed gangs and the illegal trafficking of firearms in Haiti, in order to prevent the intervention mission from further accelerating the already worrying humanitarian situation.

"Now all we hear is: intervention, technical means, financial means, etc., but no mention of how the UN intends to concretely address the human rights issues likely to arise during this mission," Hussein explained.

Pastor Danson Tunai, who works for The Gospel Ministry in the Naroc region, also takes issue with the intervention.

"Here in our homes, banditry has left many orphaned, crippled and homeless," he says. "Whether in the Garissa or Lamu areas, it's the same situation. Aren't they human beings who also deserve to be rescued like the Haitians?" asks the churchman.

This stalemate is taking place on Monday, October 9, pending the submission of written arguments by the parties prior to a final decision.

Other voices are speaking out in favor of intervention. Journalist Peter Wakaba, an activist in Nairobi for over a decade, thinks the decision to send police to Haiti is a good one.

"As part of the international community, it is also our responsibility to ensure the safety of people everywhere," Wakaba told AyiboPost.

The journalist believes that Kenyans will leave a positive impact through the support they bring to Haiti, and they will also have to bring their aid to the Haitian government in order to ensure the country's stability.

"With the efforts of the United Nations and the efforts of all the people, I think the mission will be a success," says Wakaba, who calls on Haitians to regain control of the country.

 

Translated by CHIP editors

 

Posted Oct. 21, 2023