Kenya to Push Ahead with Haiti Deployment Despite Court Rejection

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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What’s Happening 

When speaking to Reuters earlier today, January 30th, Kenyan President William Ruto has said that the government plans to go ahead with the nations’ deployment to Haiti, after it was denied by the Nairobi High Court last week, which declared it unconstitutional.

The court had stated that the deployment of police officers outside of Kenya would be a violation of the constitution and Kenyan law. However, they said should there be a “reciprocal arrangement” with the host country, that it would be allowed.

President Ruto stated that he expects a request from Haiti to come soon in order for the government to obtain the necessary paperwork to satisfy the demands of the court, and begin the deployment. He even stated the deployment could begin “as soon as next week”.

“So that mission can go ahead as soon as next week, if all the paperwork is done between Kenya and Haiti on the bilateral route that has been suggested by the court” -President Ruto

President Ruto was speaking to Reuters in Rome following the Italy-Africa summit which was held yesterday when he announced the governments plans. When the deployment was struck down by the court last week, the government had announced their intention to appeal the decision, with government spokesman Isaac Mwaura stating that “while the government respects the rule of law, we have however made the decision to challenge the high court’s verdict forthwith. The government reiterates its commitment in honouring its international obligations”.

All But One

Kenya’s police are to head a multi-national UN mission to Haiti in order to assist in combatting the nations rampant violent gangs. The deployment, which was initially requested by Haiti, has been approved by the UN, and approved by the Kenyan parliament. However, on several occasions, it has been denied by Kenyan courts.

The court first rejected it in October of 2023, mere days after the UN approved the mission, stating that it was unconstitutional citing both the current issue of deploying police outside of Kenya, as well as on the grounds that it does not invoke public participation.

Following a survey of public views on the deployment in early November the Kenyan parliament approved the mission on November 16th, stating that the need for public participation had been met, and argued that since Haiti had specifically requested police officers that satisfied any legal requirements for deploying police officers outside of Kenya.

Kenyan police forces pictured in Nairobi, 2023 (Photo from YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/File).

However, the court again rejected the deployment, just a few hours after the parliamentary approval. At the time, the court had stated a final decision would be made on January 26th, 2024. January 26th came, and passed with a third rejection of the deployment.

The Deployment

Kenya is to head the UN’s deployment to Haiti with 1,000 police officers, however they are to be joined by police from Jamaica, Belize, Chad, Senegal, and Burundi, who all have pledged forces to the deployment.

A multi-national deployment, UN or not, was initially requested by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in 2022. The call was not answered until July 2023, when President Ruto announced Kenya’s intention to head the force, in cooperation with the UN.

The “mission for humanity”, as President Ruto described it, will be funded and supplied by the UN, with the US being the primary backer having already pledged 200 million USD to the mission.

Many nations have been reluctant to commit to the mission in Haiti with the convoluted political situation the nation has, having gone three years without an elected president since President Jovenal Moise was assassinated in 2021. Presently, PM Ariel Henry is the acting President.

Former Hatian President Jovenal Moise pictured with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Peru, 2018 (Photo from the Peru Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Haiti has no date set for elections to elect a new President. Elections were supposed to take place in 2023, after having been postponed from 2022, however they never took place.

Rapidly Deteriorating

Haiti, the poorest nation in North America and one of the poorest in the world, has experienced a sharp increase in gang activity over the last many years. While Haiti has oftentimes been prone to violence, the situation has gotten so bad that the government has largely lost control of the capital, Port au Prince. Homicides are skyrocketing, and kidnappings for ransom are commonplace, including of foreign nationals. As such, a number of foreign governments have advised citizens to avoid travel to the country.

In 2023, the UN estimates the nation witnessed approximately 4,800 murders. This is more than double that of 2022, which witnessed 2,088. Homicides in Haiti have been on an upward trend since 2018, which witnessed 743 murders.

One day prior to the courts rejection of the deployment on January 26th, Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Jean Victor Geneus, spoke to the UN Security Council urging for the deployment to speed up.

“The Haitian people cannot take any more. I hope this time is the last time I will speak before the deployment of a multinational force to support our security forces” -Foreign Minister Geneus