Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Kenya: justice declares deployment 'illegal' of police officers in Haiti

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A father rushes his son out of school while the police lead an operation against gangs in Port-au-Prince. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

A court on Friday blocked the Kenyan government's “unconstitutional, illegal and invalid” decision to deploy a thousand police officers to Haiti, plagued by gang violence, as part of a UN-backed mission .

The decision marks a halt to the much-anticipated multinational force to try to stem the growing chaos in this small Caribbean state, where gang violence has left nearly 5,000 dead, including more than 2,700 civilians. in 2023, according to a report Tuesday by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Faced with increasingly pressing calls from the Haitian government and of the UN, Kenya agreed in July to lead this force of 2,500 to 2,600 men, hoped for during the first quarter of 2024, according to the UN deputy special representative in Haiti.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The UN gave the green light in October to this force, also supported by the United States.

But the announcement of Kenyan government, validated in parliament on November 16, sparked strong protests in this East African country.

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Opponent Ekuru Aukot had notably appealed to the Nairobi High Court , arguing that this mission was unconstitutional because it had no legal basis.

The National Security Council does not have a mandate to deploy national police officers outside Kenya, Judge Enock Chacha Mwita said.

Such a decision contravenes the Constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid, he added.

The government can still appeal this decision.

We will still wait for them at the Court of Appeal and we will go to the Supreme Court, a assured AFP Ekuru Aukot, welcoming the decision.

The Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs once again urged Thursday for the rapid dispatch of reinforcements to the island.

Every day that happens without this much-hoped-for support, it is one day too many that we live in gang hell, Jean Victor Généus declared before the UN Security Council.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Preparations for this force, the total strength and exact composition of which, however, remained to be finalized, were underway.

The Kenyan ambassador to the #x27;UN, Martin Kimani, affirmed Thursday that without prejudging the court decision, the government […] has made significant progress in preparing the mission.

Kenya has already participated in several peacekeeping operations in neighboring countries (DRC, Somalia) and in other parts of the world (Liberia, East Timor, former Yugoslavia…).

But critics of the mission in Haiti had warned of the danger of exposing police officers in unfamiliar territory to heavily armed local gangs

This deployment is a suicide mission, Ekuru Aukot estimated.

For Kenyan President William Ruto, it was on the contrary a mission for humanity in a country ravaged, according to him, by colonialism.

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William Ruto, President of Kenya.

In a report Tuesday , UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of the staggering level of gang violence, which continues to worsen in Haiti.

While the gangs were until recently mainly present in the capital and its suburbs, he highlighted the rapid expansion of their violence in previously spared rural areas.

The number of homicides more than doubled (+119.4%) in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching 4,789 deaths. Of those killed, more than 2,700 were civilians and more than 1,600 were gang members.

The murders, sexual violence and kidnappings committed by organized gangs, particularly against women and girls, among other crimes, continue with impunity, he added.

In a context of terror, of inhabitants forced to flee or hide, the country is experiencing one of the worst food crises in the world.

More 4.35 million Haitians, or more than 40% of the population, are acutely food insecure.

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