The Kenyan High Court has issued a ruling blocking the government’s plan to deploy police officers to Haiti to combat gangs. The judge deemed the deployment illegal, asserting that the National Security Council lacks the legal authority to send police officers outside Kenya.
The judge specified that the council can only deploy armed forces for peacekeeping missions, citing Haiti as an example. Last year, Kenya had volunteered to lead a multinational security force in Haiti to address escalating gang violence.
According to the judge, Kenyan law permits the deployment of police officers to another country only if a reciprocal agreement exists between Kenya and the host nation.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had urgently requested the UN to deploy a multinational force, citing overwhelming gang control in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The UN Security Council endorsed Kenya’s offer to lead the force, which was subsequently approved by Kenyan lawmakers.
Community reactions in Haiti varied, with some seeing the mission as a potential solution to accessing public infrastructure and addressing the humanitarian crisis.
Others considered external interventions unnecessary and viewed them as a waste of resources. Ekuru Aukot, the Kenyan opposition leader who brought the case to court, hailed the ruling as a win for the country, emphasizing the need to prioritize Kenya’s own security challenges over international deployments.
Aukot accused President William Ruto of using the deployment to boost his international image and gain favor with Western countries.
President Ruto defended Kenya’s participation in global peace support missions, stating that the deployment would enhance officers’ skills and experience in providing security.
However, concerns were raised about potential human rights violations by Kenyan police, with documented cases of violence, including murders, dating back to 2013, according to Nicole Widdersheim from Human Rights Watch.
The Kenyan government denied allegations of human rights violations, and prior to the ruling, a police officer mentioned that officers had undergone two months of intensive training, covering areas such as weapon handling, international law, and Haiti’s topography.
This court decision marks the second major setback for Kenya’s government on the same day, with the High Court also rejecting an attempt to overturn a block on a controversial housing levy.
President Ruto, who recently criticized judges for alleged corruption, faces challenges in implementing government policies amid legal opposition.