- Kenya’s High Court on Thursday extended a block on the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti, which is part of a multinational effort to combat gang violence in the Caribbean nation.
- The High Court previously blocked the proposed deployment in October.
- Haiti’s gang violence epidemic has made international headlines, with organized crime’s stranglehold on the country only worsening following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Kenya’s high court on Thursday extended orders blocking the deployment of police officers to Haiti, even as parliament approved a government request to send 1,000 officers to the Caribbean nation to help deal with gang violence.
High Court Judge Chacha Mwita said he would issue a ruling on Jan. 26, effectively delaying the sending of security officers to Haiti, where they are slated to lead a multinational force backed by the U.N Security Council.
The planned deployment was first blocked by the High Court in Nairobi in October.
Whatever decision is reached by the High Court in January may be appealed, meaning there could be a protracted battle over sending the troops to Haiti.
The court decision came hours after Kenya’s parliament passed a motion allowing the deployment of the security officers.
But the government was immediately criticized for disobeying the court orders first issued in October that barred the deployment.
“The tabling of the motion in parliament today was belligerent. A disregard to the rule of law that clearly states that one arm of government cannot discuss a matter already seized by another arm,” said former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot, who filed the court case.
Herman Manyora, a professor of journalism at the University of Nairobi, said the government had no choice but to respect the court’s decision on the delay.
“President William Ruto’s government has a history of ignoring court decisions, but if it’s a law-abiding government, it will wait until the court makes the final decision. Even the debate in parliament is a brazen defiance of the laws of the country.”
Earlier, the Kenyan parliament approved a government motion from the Committee on Administration and Internal Security approving the government’s request to send the security officers as violence escalates in Haiti.
The heated debate saw opposition legislators reject government plans for Kenya to lead the multinational policing team in Haiti, saying it violated the country’s constitution. Supporters of the motion said Kenya had a moral obligation and duty to aid Haiti.
The key issues in the debate were who would fund the deployment and what justifications there are for sending security forces to Haiti, thousands of miles from Kenya.
“Where is the sense in taking 1,000 police officers to Haiti when Kenyans are dying, in need of protection, in need of service from their police officers,” argued opposition lawmaker Rozzah Buya.
Gabriel Tongoya, who chairs parliament’s committee on administration and internal security, said all costs of the deployment would be funded by the United Nations.
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki last week told parliament that Kenya will only deploy the officers to Haiti if funding and equipment was paid for by U.N. member states.
Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica, and Belize have all pledged troops for the multinational mission.
Violence has escalated in Haiti as a heavily armed gang surrounded a hospital in the capital of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, trapping patients who included 40 children and newborns. Police later rescued the patients.
Gangs across Haiti have continued to grow more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and the number of kidnappings and killings keeps rising.