‘Unconstitutional’: Kenya High Court rules against deploying nation’s police officers to Haiti

Parliament passed a motion for deployment to tackle gang violence

Kenya gang violence A Kenya Police Officer patrols next to a vandalised car that has been used as a barricade by opposition supporters during anti-government protests in Nairobi | AFP

Kenya's high court on Friday barred the UN-backed deployment of Kenyan police officers to Haiti to help bolster the Caribbean country bring gang violence under control.

High Court Judge Chacha Mwita said Kenya's National Security Council, which is led by the president, does not have the authority to deploy regular police outside the country. Kenya's parliament passed a motion in November allowing the deployment of 1,000 officers to led a multi-national force in Haiti.

It is not contested that there is no reciprocal arrangement between Kenya and Haiti and for that reason, there can be no deployment of police to that country, Mwita said.

The judge said Kenya's offer was noble but needed to be to be fulfilled in accordance with the constitution.

Mwita made the ruling in response to an application from Thirdway Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot, argued that the government's plan to send the officers to Haiti was illegal.

An unprecedented surge in gang violence is plaguing Haiti, with the number of victims killed, injured and kidnapped more than doubling last year, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for the country.

I cannot overstress the severity of the situation in Haiti, where multiple protracted crises have reached a critical point, envoy Maria Isabel Salvador told the U.N. Security Council.

She said the 8,400 victims of gang violence documented by her office last year 122% more than in 2022 were mainly targeted by gangs in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.

Some 300 gangs control an estimated 80% of the capital, and accounted for 83% of last year's killings and injuries, Salvador said. But, she added, they have expanded north into the Artibonite region, considered Haiti's food basket, and south of the capital, where gangs conducted large-scale attacks to control key zones and systematically use sexual violence to exert control.

Guy Philippe, a former rebel leader in Haiti, implored Kenyans in a video message this week to not allow their police or military to be deployed to Haiti.

Philippe said the Haitian people viewed Kenyans as their fellow African brothers but if the police were deployed to the Caribbean, Kenya's people would become the enemies of Haitians because they would be seen as supporting an illegitimate government.

We have a government here in Haiti that has no legitimacy, no one loves them. This government is helping gangs, killing innocent people, kidnapping and serving interest of imperialism," he said.

Philippe served nine years in a U.S. prison following a guilty plea to a money laundering charge. He is best known for leading a 2004 rebellion against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and masterminding attacks on police stations.

Earlier this month, his supporters launched protests that paralyzed some cities across Haiti as they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Kenyan authorities told The Associated Press last month that the first group of about 300 officers was expected to arrive in Haiti by February. Kenya's contribution would eventually rise to 1,000 officers at the head of a 3,000-strong multinational force. Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica and Belize also have pledged troops for the multinational mission.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp