Haiti Announces Progress on Kenyan Deployment

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

The Haitian government has announced that high ranking officials from both Kenya and Haiti have met across three days in the US in order to discuss what they both hope is Kenya’s imminent deployment as the head of an intervention force to Haiti.

The officials are meeting in order to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations and in order to set a deadline for the Kenyan deployment. Haiti said that the “intense discussions” being held were in an attempt to satisfy the legal needs of both Kenya and Haiti, particularly after Nairobi’s High Court declared the deployment as unconstitutional.

Haiti’s government stated that “a final decision on the text should come early next week as well as its signature by both parties”, raising hopes that the deployment will finally be realized soon.

A Haitian SWAT member stands guard following an anti-gang operation (Photo from Natalie Gallon/CNN).

The Deployment

Kenya is to head a multi-national UN 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.

A Long Process

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.

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 court had again 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.

The meetings being held between Haiti and Kenya are seeking to provide the necessary documentation for the Kenyan government in order for them to satisfy the needs of the court.

That being said, there is no real guarantee that the court will accept whatever documentation Kenya is able to receive from Haiti as sufficient enough to allow the deployment.

Worse has Gotten Worse

The year of 2023 was a particularly bad year for Haiti, who witnessed approximately 4,800 murders in the year, more than double that of 2022, which had 2,088 murders. Already, 2024 is seemingly going to be worse, with the UN reporting that more than 800 people had been injured, killed, or kidnapped throughout Haiti in January, which is more than three times the amount of January of last year.

A protester wearing the flag of the First Haitian Empire stands before a tire fire (photo from Collin Mayfield).

Murder and kidnappings are becoming more and more commonplace in Haiti as the presence of gangs grows ever larger. In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, gangs control large sections of the city. Kidnapping people for ransom, including foreign nationals, has become a particularly common tactic among the gangs.