Kenyan court blocks police mission to Haiti despite parliament's approval


The Kenyan parliament on Thursday approved the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti to help deal with rising gang violence in the Caribbean nation – but later on the same day, the High Court upheld its stay on the process. 

Kenya's High Court, which already blocked the move once before in October, extended orders blocking government plans to send the police officers to Haiti at the head of an international peacekeeping mission.

The case was brought by former presidential candidate and lawyer Ekuru Aukot, who called the UN-backed deployment "a mistake and a suicide mission".

High Court judge Chacha Mwita said he would issue another ruling on 26 January, effectively delaying the mission.

The decision came hours after Kenya's National Assembly approved the government's request to send the police officers to Haiti.

But the motion was hotly debated, with opposition lawmakers questioning who would fund the deployment and what justifications there were for sending security forces to Haiti, thousands of miles from Kenya.

Ongoing arguments

"Where is the sense in taking 1,000 police officers to Haiti when Kenyans are dying, in need of protection, in need of service from their police officers?" asked opposition MP Rozzah Buya.

Gabriel Tongoya, who chairs the parliament's committee on administration and internal security, said all costs of the deployment would be funded by the United Nations.

Experts say that the government has no choice but to respect the court's decision on the delay.

President William Ruto's government has a history of ignoring court decisions, but if it's a law-abiding government, it will wait until the court makes the final decision," Herman Manyora, a professor of journalism at the University of Nairobi and political commentator, told the Associated Press.

"Even the debate in parliament is a brazen defiance of the laws of the country."

Escalating violence

Whatever decision is reached by the High Court in January can be appealed, meaning there could be a protracted battle over sending the troops to Haiti.

Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica and Belize have all pledged troops for the multinational mission.

Violence continues to escalate in Haiti, where on Wednesday a heavily armed gang surrounded a hospital in the capital Port-au-Prince. Police later rescued the patients, who included 40 children and newborns. 

Gangs across Haiti have continued to grow more powerful since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and the number of kidnappings and killings keeps rising. 

(with newswires)

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