Kenya’s parliament has approved the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti to help stop gang violence.
This is despite a court order barring any deployment, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the plan. Opposition lawmakers in Kenya condemned the vote, but the ruling party used its majority to back the government following a fiery debate.
What is Haiti’s mission in Kenya?
Haiti had appealed for international help to tackle growing lawlessness. Kenya’s offer won the UN Security Council’s approval in October 2023, but the plan has been opposed by the main opposition party in Kenya.
About 300 violent gangs are active across Haiti and 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is under their control. These groups have taken increasing control of the city since the assassination of the country’s president in 2021 threw Haiti into an immense political and economic crisis.
On 16 November 2023 voting happened in Kenya’s parliament, lawmakers supporting the motion said the country was part of the global community and could not ignore the appeals for help from other countries.
Lawmakers in Kenya also argued that the East African nation has a history of UN peacekeeping missions such as in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone. Parliament approved the plan in a voice vote moments before the High Court was due to begin hearing the case on the planned deployment.
A small opposition party, Thirdway Alliance, has led the legal challenge, saying the plan was unconstitutional because only the military could be deployed abroad. The government rejected the argument and defended the case.
The court later reiterated that the deployment could not take place until it gave its ruling in January 2024. Thirdway Alliance’s legal representative, Charles Midega, said that it was a “brazen” act by parliament to discuss the deployment despite the court order.
In parliament, opposition lawmakers argued that a vote could not be held on a matter before the courts. But governing party lawmakers said there were no rules barring parliament from debating the issue, for as long as it did go into the substance of the case.
Kenya’s main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has previously condemned the proposed deployment. Rights groups, including Amnesty International, recently 2023 expressed concerns over the Kenyan police’s record of using excessive and unnecessary force.
There has also been notable criticism of the planned deployment from the man seen as the father of Kenyan literature – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o – who said: “If you know the history of Haiti, any black person will not do that.”
The violence in Haiti is increasing. Numerous killings and abuse are going on in Haiti. People and lawmakers in Kenya’s Parliament have mixed reactions to the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Looking at the violence happening at different corners of world like Russia-Ukraine war, Israel-Hamas war, Haiti violence etc. action have to be taken at correct time with international communities have to come together for peace.