Kenya's Ruto says confident Haiti mission will go ahead

Kenya Kenyan police have been accused of using sometimes lethal force against civilians.  By Tony KARUMBA (AFP/File)
Kenyan police have been accused of using sometimes lethal force against civilians. By Tony KARUMBA (AFP/File)

Kenyan President William Ruto voiced confidence Friday that a UN-backed mission tasked with quelling gang-fuelled anarchy in Haiti would go ahead.

Kenya has offered to send about 1,000 police as the head of a multinational force for the troubled Caribbean nation, with the deployment expected in a matter of weeks.

There had been speculation a first contingent would arrive last week to coincide with Ruto's state visit to Washington, but instead an advance team was sent to carry out reconnaissance work.

"In light of Kenya's lead role in the UN Security Council mandated Multinational Security support Mission (MSS) to Haiti, I have received a comprehensive brief from the team that undertook an assessment mission to ascertain the state of preparedness for the deployment of our officers," Ruto said on X, formerly Twitter.

"I am confident of the fulfilment of the mandate of UNSC Resolution 2699," he said, referring to the UN Security Council resolution in October last year that approved the security mission.

Ruto had told the BBC a week ago during his visit to Washington that he expected a Kenyan force to arrive in about three weeks.

However, the mission faces a new court challenge in Kenya, where a small opposition party and its leaders filed a lawsuit to try to prevent the government from sending police to Haiti.

The lawsuit seeks to hold the government in contempt, arguing that it had "blatantly disregarded" a January court order prohibiting the deployment as unconstitutional and illegal.

Kenya's High Court is due to hold a hearing on the case on June 12.

Haiti has suffered from poverty, political instability and natural disasters for decades, and the multinational force has been tasked with helping its beleaguered police rein in powerful criminal gangs.

Aside from Kenya, other countries that have voiced willingness to join the mission include Benin, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados and Chad.

The United States is providing funding and logistical support, but not boots on the ground in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

In a statement earlier this week, Human Rights Watch said the multinational mission still faced legal and funding hurdles, as well as concerns about human rights.

"A key question is whether the countries involved are taking sufficient steps to ensure the MSS respects human rights," it said on Tuesday.

A UN mission which operated in Haiti from 2004 to 2017 was tainted by accusations of sexual abuse as well as a cholera epidemic -- brought in by peacekeepers -- that killed some 10,000 Haitians.

Kenyan police are often accused by rights groups of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings, and justice is rare with few examples of officers being held to account.

HRW also said the "trust fund" for the latest UN-backed operation had received $21 million, far below the estimated initial operational costs of $600 million.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024