Kenyan Court Deems Deployment of Police Officers to Haiti Unconstitutional

On Friday, a Kenyan court ruled that the government’s plan to send police officers to lead a UN-approved mission in Haiti was unconstitutional, casting uncertainty over the initiative aimed at addressing gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

The ruling came in response to a challenge by an opposition party in October against the decision to deploy 1,000 officers to Haiti, where gang violence had claimed nearly 5,000 lives and displaced around 200,000 people in the preceding year.

Kenya had aimed to deploy its officers to Haiti this month following the UN Security Council’s approval of the mission in October. However, a court order halted the deployment shortly after.

High Court Judge Chacha Mwita stated that Kenyan law permits the deployment of officers abroad only when a “reciprocal arrangement” exists with the host government. He declared any further actions taken in pursuit of the deployment unconstitutional, illegal, and invalid.

In response, the government announced its intention to appeal the ruling, emphasizing its commitment to fulfilling international obligations as a member of the global community.

Haiti had requested assistance in 2022 amid escalating gang violence but struggled to secure support due to concerns over Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s administration and the history of human rights abuses in the country.

Canada, while providing $100 million in aid to the Haitian National Police and imposing sanctions on entities linked to gang violence and corruption, declined to lead an armed international stabilizing force, citing past experiences in Haiti.

Kenya had offered its support last July, citing solidarity with Haiti. The Bahamas pledged 150 personnel, while Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda expressed willingness to contribute.

The United Nations reported a significant increase in gang-related killings in Haiti, with 4,789 documented deaths in the past year and approximately 3,000 reported kidnappings.

In a separate incident, six Catholic nuns and two other hostages kidnapped in the Haitian capital were released last week, though details regarding their release, including whether a ransom was paid, remain unclear.

Ghada Waly, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, cautioned against the rising influence of Haitian gangs, highlighting a concerning trend of arms trafficking. A UNODC report revealed that a majority of illegal firearms seized in Haiti originated from the United States.

Piers Potter


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