Kenya’s parliament approves Haiti police deploymentThu, 16 Nov 2023 15:22:57 GMT

Kenya’s parliament on Thursday approved the proposed deployment of its police to Haiti to lead a UN-backed multinational mission aimed at restoring peace and security in the gang-plagued Caribbean nation.The UN Security Council gave the go-ahead in early October for the Kenya-led mission to help the overwhelmed Haitian police battle rampant gang violence.But Kenya’s involvement has been criticised at home and the government is currently barred from deploying any police to Haiti due to an ongoing court challenge to its plans.”This House approves the deployment of the officers of the National Police Service to multinational security support mission to Haiti,” Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei told lawmakers during Thursday’s charged session.The government has said it is ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel and vowed that preparations for the mission would continue, despite the court challenge.The Nairobi High Court is considering a petition brought by opposition politician Ekuru Aukot, who argued the mission was unconstitutional as it was not backed by any law or treaty. Judge Enock Mwita on Thursday said the orders blocking the deployment would stay until January 26 when he will “deliver a judgement”.Ahead of Thursday’s hearing, Aukot criticised parliament for proceeding with the vote, accusing lawmakers of “disobeying (the) court order”.But National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah said lawmakers were not breaking any laws as “standing orders do not stop parliament from doing its constitutional mandate”.”It is not sub-judice,” he said, defying calls by the minority opposition to call off the debate.- ‘Mission for humanity’ -Rights watchdogs also say that Kenyan police have a history of using sometimes lethal force against civilians and that they pose an unacceptable risk in Haiti, where foreign troops have committed abuses during past interventions.Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki defended the deployment last month, saying, “We are not taking our officers to Haiti as guinea pigs.”Kindiki said last week that Kenya would not deploy its troops unless the mission was fully funded by UN member states, with a $600 million budget already drawn up.President William Ruto has described the Kenyan undertaking as a “mission for humanity” in a nation ravaged by colonialism.The UN-backed mission — initially approved for one year — envisions Kenyan police on the offensive with their Haitian counterparts, who are outnumbered and outgunned by gang members.The mission will also aim to create conditions to hold elections, which have not taken place in Haiti since 2016.Kenya is seen as a democratic anchor in East Africa and has participated in peacekeeping operations in its immediate region, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia as well as other parts of the world.Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, with the economy and public health system in tatters.