Kenya's parliament approves Haiti police deployment

The government has said it is ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel.

November 16, 2023 08:54 pm | Updated 08:54 pm IST - Nairobi

A Kenya Police Officer patrols next to a vandalised car. File image for representation.

A Kenya Police Officer patrols next to a vandalised car. File image for representation. | Photo Credit: AFP

Kenya's parliament on Thursday approved the proposed deployment of its police to Haiti to lead a UN-backed multinational mission aimed at restoring peace and security in the gang-plagued Caribbean nation.

The UN Security Council gave the go-ahead in early October for the Kenya-led mission to help the overwhelmed Haitian police battle rampant gang violence.

But Kenya's involvement has been criticised at home and the government is currently barred from deploying any police to Haiti due to an ongoing court challenge to its plans.

"This House approves the deployment of the officers of the National Police Service to multinational security support mission to Haiti," Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei told lawmakers on Thursday.

The government has said it is ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel and vowed that preparations for the mission will continue, despite the court challenge.

The Nairobi High Court is considering a petition brought by opposition politician Ekuru Aukot, who argued the mission was unconstitutional as it was not backed by any law or treaty.

Ahead of the latest hearing on Thursday, Aukot criticised parliament for proceeding with the vote, accusing lawmakers of "disobeying (the) court order."

Rights watchdogs have also said that Kenyan police have a history of using sometimes lethal force against civilians and that they pose an unacceptable risk in Haiti, where foreign troops have committed abuses in past interventions.

Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki defended the deployment last month, saying, "we are not taking our officers to Haiti as guinea pigs".

President William Ruto has described the Kenyan undertaking as a "mission for humanity" in a nation ravaged by colonialism.

The UN-backed mission — initially approved for one year — envisions Kenyan police on the offensive with their Haitian counterparts, who are outnumbered and outgunned by gang members.

The mission will also aim to create conditions to hold elections, which have not taken place in Haiti since 2016.

Kenya is seen as a democratic anchor in East Africa and has participated in peacekeeping operations in its immediate region, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia as well as other parts of the world.

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 also in tatters.

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