Advertisement

Kenyan court says police cannot deploy to Haiti mission

By Humphrey Malalo and George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) -A Kenyan court on Friday rejected a plan to send police officers to Haiti to lead a U.N.-approved mission, throwing into doubt the future of an initiative aimed at tackling gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

An opposition party in October challenged the government's decision to send 1,000 officers to address a deepening crisis in Haiti, where gang violence killed nearly 5,000 people and forced around 200,000 from their homes last year.

Kenya had hoped to have its officers in Haiti as soon as this month after the United Nations Security Council approved the mission in October, but a court issued a stay on the deployment shortly after.

High Court Judge Chacha Mwita ruled that, under Kenyan law, the authorities could only deploy officers abroad if a "reciprocal arrangement" was in place with the host government.

"Any further action or steps taken by any state organ or state officer in furtherance of such a decision, contravenes the constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid," Mwita said.

The government said in a statement that it would appeal the decision and reiterated "its commitment in honouring its international obligations as a member of the community and comity of nations".

Haiti first requested help in 2022 as gang violence surged but was unable to find a country willing to lead a security mission.

"The need for this multinational force, authorised by the council remains, extremely high," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. "We need urgent action, we need urgent funding and we hope that member states will continue to do their part and then some."

Many governments have been wary of supporting Prime Minister Ariel Henry's unelected administration and intervening in a nation where previous missions have been dogged by human rights abuses.

Kenya finally stepped forward last July, saying it was doing so in solidarity with a brother nation. The Bahamas then committed 150 people, and Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda said they were willing to help.

The United Nations said this week that it had documented 4,789 people killed by gang violence in Haiti last year, an increase of 119% from 2022, and that another 3,000 were kidnapped.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa and Humphrey Malalo; Editing by Aaron Ross, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alex Richardson)