Kenya’s High Court Blocks UN-Backed Deployment of Kenyan Police to Haiti Amidst Gang Violence Crisis

NAIROBI, Kenya – The high court of Kenya has blocked the U.N.-backed plan to deploy Kenyan police officers to Haiti in an effort to address the escalating gang violence in the Caribbean nation. High Court Judge Chacha Mwita ruled that the National Security Council, led by Kenya’s president, does not possess the authority to send police forces outside the country. Kenya’s parliament had passed a motion in November allowing for the deployment of 1,000 officers to head a multinational force in Haiti. However, Judge Mwita emphasized that without a reciprocal agreement between Kenya and Haiti, the deployment of police officers was not permissible.

The court’s ruling came in response to an application filed by Ekuru Aukot, the leader of the Thirdway Alliance Party, who claimed that the government’s plan to send officers to Haiti was illegal. The Kenyan government has expressed its intention to appeal the decision. Many consider this ruling a setback for Haiti, which had urgently requested the deployment of a foreign armed force back in October 2022.

Meanwhile, Haiti is grappling with an unprecedented surge in gang violence. The U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for the country, Maria Isabel Salvador, revealed that the number of victims killed, injured, and kidnapped due to gang violence had more than doubled compared to the previous year. The situation has reached a critical point, with multiple protracted crises converging in Haiti. Gangs in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, account for 83% of the killings and injuries, with approximately 300 gangs controlling an estimated 80% of the city. These gangs have also expanded their operations into the Artibonite region and the areas surrounding the capital, using sexual violence as a means of exerting control.

Diego Da Rin from the International Crisis Group expressed his disappointment regarding the court’s decision, stating, “The vast majority of the population was waiting for external help to assist the police regain some control of the capital and the areas most affected by violence.” However, not everyone was in favor of the deployment. Guy Philippe, a former rebel leader in Haiti, urged Kenyans not to allow their police or military to be deployed to Haiti, as he believed it would align them with the perceived illegitimate government.

Kenyan authorities had planned for the first group of approximately 300 officers to arrive in Haiti by February, with Kenya’s contribution eventually rising to 1,000 officers leading a 3,000-strong multinational force. Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica, and Belize had also pledged troops for the mission. The court’s ruling has put these plans on hold, leaving Haiti struggling to find alternative solutions to combat the escalating gang violence that is plaguing the nation.