Kenya Court Rules Haiti Police Deployment Is ‘Illegal’

(AFP) — 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 order in the gang-plagued Caribbean nation.

The ruling comes as Haiti’s government calls for the urgent deployment of a multinational force to help the country’s overwhelmed police battle rampant violence.

The UN Security Council gave the go-ahead in early October for the Kenya-led mission, which has faced criticism at home and a legal challenge filed at the Nairobi High Court last year.

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.

There was no immediate response from the Kenyan government to the ruling.

President William Ruto earlier described the Kenyan undertaking as a “mission for humanity” in a nation ravaged by colonialism.

Haiti’s foreign minister on Thursday 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.

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Kenya’s government had previously said it was ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel, with Nairobi’s ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, saying that “significant progress” had been made in its preparations for taking on the mission.

The ruling throws these plans into disarray, even as Haiti slides deeper into crisis, with homicides more than doubling last year, according to a UN report.

The multinational mission — initially approved for one year — had envisioned Kenyan police on the offensive with their Haitian counterparts, who are outnumbered and outgunned by gang members.

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, and the economy and public health system in tatters.

The 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise plunged the country further into chaos. No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.