Kenya’s Parliament on Thursday, November 16th, approved the nations’ deployment of 1,000 police officers as a part of a multi-national UN deployment to Haiti. However, Thursday’s approval is in direct contradiction with a Kenyan High Court decision that blocks the deployment. A decision which took place the same day as Parliament’s approval.
On Thursday, just a few hours after Parliament’s decision, Kenya’s High Court blocked the deployment, on the grounds that it may be unconstitutional. High Court Judge Chacha Mwita announced the court would be issuing a final ruling on January 26th, several months after President Ruto’s government announced their intention to head any multi-national force deployment to Haiti in July.
Long Standing Issues
The UN Security Council on October 2nd approved the creation of the force, of which Kenya was, of course, to lead. However, in October, due to challenges from opposition parties, the deployment was blocked by Kenya’s High Court on October 9th on the grounds that it did not invoke public participation, a constitutional requirement, as well as stating only military forces may be deployed outside the country, as the deployment would be using police officers.
Kenya’s new parliamentary approval cites a report which surveyed public views from the 2nd-9th of November. Stating their constitutional obligations had been sated. Regarding the deployment not being of military forces, Parliament stated that since Haiti specifically requested police officers, this met the legal requirements for deployment under Kenyan law.
Despite this, the court once again delayed the deployment, and many rather quickly took to accusing President Ruto and his government of attempting to simply ignore the recent decision as well as the ruling in October.
“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” -Ekuru Aukot, the Kenyan politician who originally filed October’s court case which barred the deployment.
Whether or not Ruto’s government intends to go ahead with the deployment and ignore the courts decision (regarding which opposition parties have accused him of ignoring court decisions before), remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is it would be illegal for them to do so.
The deployment seeks to answer a long standing call for help from Haiti’s Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, who requested a multi-national deployment to assist with gang violence. While Kenya is to lead the force, Jamaica, Belize, Chad, Senegal, and Burundi have all also pledged troops to the force.
Addressing funding concerns, Kenya Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki stated last week that Kenya’s deployment is to be funded and equipped by the UN Security Council. In October, the US pledged 200 million USD to the mission.
An Uncertain Future
If Ruto’s government abides by the court decision, as stated a final decision by the court is to be made on January 26th. Whatever this decision may be, however, can still be appealed, thus offering the potential of more lengthy delays. These delays come amidst escalating violence in Haiti. On Wednesday, the 15th, Haitian gangs in Port-au-Prince surrounded a hospital, torching homes nearby and barring the people inside from leaving. Police managed to rescue those inside, and stop the gangs from surrounding the hospital.
As the situation within Haiti gets worse, further delays spell trouble for the nation.