On Friday, January 26th, a Kenyan High Court delivered a landmark ruling, halting the government’s planned deployment of police officers to Haiti. This decision comes despite the United Nations Security Council’s endorsement of Kenya’s leadership in a multinational mission aimed at addressing gang violence in the Caribbean nation.
The Kenyan High Court, led by Judge Enock Chacha Mwita, declared the deployment unconstitutional, illegal, and invalid, stating that the National Security Council lacks the legal authority to send police outside Kenya for peacekeeping missions. The judge emphasized that Kenyan law permits the deployment of police officers to another country only under a reciprocal agreement between Kenya and the host nation.
This ruling represents a significant setback for the Kenyan government, which had volunteered last year to lead a security force in Haiti to quell escalating gang violence. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had urgently requested the UN for a multinational force, citing the government’s inability to control gangs that dominate 80% of Port-au-Prince.
The Kenyan government, expressing its intention to appeal against the ruling, views the deployment as an opportunity for its officers to gain valuable experience and contribute to global peacekeeping efforts. Kenyan President William Ruto had described the mission as a “mission for humanity,” highlighting Kenya’s impressive record in international peace support missions.
However, the decision to deploy had faced domestic criticism. Opposition leader Ekuru Aukot, who filed the petition, argued that Kenya should prioritize its own security challenges before committing resources abroad. Human rights concerns were also raised regarding the suitability of Kenyan police for the mission, given documented instances of police violence.
The Haitian government, grappling with rampant gang violence and political instability, had hoped for the speedy deployment of the multinational force. Haiti’s Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus, addressing the UN Security Council, emphasized the dire need for international support to bolster the country’s overwhelmed security forces.