Kenya’s parliament approves police deployment to Haiti

NAIROBI (Reuters) -Kenyan lawmakers voted on Thursday to support a request to deploy hundreds of police officers to Haiti in a U.N.-approved mission aimed at helping the Caribbean nation tackle gang violence.

In July, Kenya pledged to offer 1,000 police officers after Haiti appealed for international help with security personnel to assist in its battle against gangs blamed for spiralling violence.

But in early October an opposition party went to court and got an order suspending the deployment.

It claimed the plan did not involve public participation and was also unconstitutional because only the military could be deployed outside the country.

Parliament’s deputy speaker Gladys Boss called a vote and lawmakers approved the deployment, citing a report that said the deployment meets the constitutional requirement to take into account public views, which were collected between Nov. 2 and 9.

As Haiti’s Prime Minister had placed the request for Kenya’s officers the request had met requirements under Kenya’s laws, a parliamentary committee concluded.

Gabriel Tongoyo, chairperson of parliament’s Administration and Internal Security Committee, said the deployment term was for one year and the United Nations will bear its costs.

The United Nations estimates some 200,000 Haitians have been displaced during escalating violence, with armed gangs carrying out indiscriminate killings, kidnappings, gang rapes and torching people’s homes.

A court hearing the case on Thursday challenging the deployment’s legality will deliver its verdict on January 26, said Charles Midenga, a lawyer for the petitioner.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa and Humphrey MalaloEditing by Alexandra Hudson, William Maclean)