Kenya vows to challenge court ruling against Haiti deploymentFri, 26 Jan 2024 20:29:19 GMT

Kenya’s government vowed Friday to challenge a court ruling against its decision to send a police contingent to Haiti to lead a UN-backed law and order mission in the gang-plagued Caribbean nation.The ruling, which branded the deployment “illegal”, throws into doubt the future of a multinational force long sought by Haiti’s government, which has pleaded for international help to confront violence that has left nearly 5,000 dead.The UN Security Council approved the mission in early October, but concerns in Kenya over Nairobi’s involvement prompted a court challenge.On Friday, judge Enock Chacha Mwita ruled that “any decision by any state organ or state officer to deploy police officers to Haiti… contravenes the constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid”.”An order is hereby issued prohibiting deployment of police forces to Haiti or any other country,” he said at Nairobi High Court.Hours later, government spokesman Isaac Mwaura responded by saying: “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,” he said.Ekuru Aukot, the opposition politician who challenged the deployment, said he was prepared for a long fight.”We will still be waiting for them at the court of appeal, and we will go all the way to the Supreme Court. They should be thanking me for saving the government this embarrassment,” he told AFP.The government had previously said it was ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel, an offer welcomed by the United States and other nations that had ruled out putting their own forces on the ground.Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, had said Thursday that “significant progress” had been made in preparations for the mission, which had parliamentary approval.In the face of criticism, President William Ruto had described the Kenyan undertaking as a “mission for humanity”, in step with its long record of contributing to peacekeeping missions abroad.- ‘Cannot take any more’ -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, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters.The 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise plunged the country further into chaos. No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.Haiti’s foreign minister pleaded Thursday for the deployment to be accelerated, telling the UN Security Council that gang violence in the country was as barbaric as the horrors experienced in war zones.”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,” Jean Victor Geneus told the council.UN chief Antonio Guterres said Friday that the need for the force remained “extremely high” despite the court decision. “We need urgent action, we need urgent funding, and we hope that member states will continue to do their part,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.Human Rights Watch voiced a similar call for urgency.”Today’s developments don’t affect the urgency of the situation in Haiti,” executive director Tirana Hassan said, adding that millions of lives were in danger. “Haitians need international assistance now more than ever.”Washington said it was “very grateful” that Kenya was still willing to be part of the mission.”We still think that’s really important, because the gangs and the thugs and criminals are still causing a lot of chaos, mayhem, killing and violence,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.Gangs now run rampant in large swathes of the country and homicides in Haiti more than doubled last year to nearly 4,800, according to a UN report released Tuesday.The multinational mission — initially approved for one year — had envisioned Kenyan police on the offensive with their Haitian counterparts, who are outnumbered and outgunned by gang members.burs-ho/js