Kenyan High Court Blocks Deployment of Police Officers to Haiti for UN-Backed Mission

In a significant legal setback for the Kenyan government’s plan to lead a UN-backed mission in Haiti, the Kenyan High Court has barred the deployment of 1,000 police officers to the Caribbean nation. The decision, delivered on Friday by Judge Enock Chacha Mwita, declared the deployment unconstitutional, illegal, and invalid, citing a lack of legal authority for the National Security Council to send police officers outside Kenya. The ruling comes amidst Haiti’s urgent call for international assistance to address escalating gang violence.

The Kenyan government, led by President William Ruto, expressed intentions to challenge the court’s verdict. Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura stated, “While the government respects the rule of law, we have, however, made the decision to challenge the high court’s verdict forthwith.”

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been grappling with widespread violence and political instability for years, exacerbated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. Gang-related violence has surged, with over 3,000 homicides and 1,500 kidnappings recorded in the first nine months of 2023, according to UN data.

The UN Security Council had approved the Kenya-led mission in October, with President Ruto describing it as a “mission for humanity.” However, the deployment faced criticism domestically, leading to opposition politician Ekuru Aukot filing a petition against it last year.

The court ruling highlighted concerns over the legal authority for such deployments, emphasizing that the National Security Council can only deploy military, not police, for peacekeeping missions. Additionally, the judge noted that Kenyan law allows police deployment to another country only with a reciprocal agreement, which does not exist between Kenya and Haiti.

The decision has received mixed reactions, with some viewing it as a win for Kenya, citing the need to address domestic security challenges first. However, others, including Haiti’s foreign minister, have expressed disappointment, emphasizing the critical need for international assistance to combat the escalating crisis.

This ruling marks the second major legal setback for the Kenyan government on the same day, with the High Court also rejecting an attempt to overturn a block on a controversial housing levy. The government’s decision to appeal the rulings adds further uncertainty to its participation in the UN-backed mission in Haiti.

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