A Kenyan court has ruled against sending a thousand police officers to Haiti, ruling their deployment “unconstitutional, illegal and invalid.” This court decision, made on January 26, jeopardizes the establishment of the peacekeeping mission, supported by the United Nations, supposed to begin soon in Haiti, a country whose functioning is paralyzed by a gang war .

Under the leadership of the United States, the UN gave the green light in October to the deployment of a new international mission, under Kenyan command, to curb the gang violence that reigns in this country of eleven million inhabitants. In 2023, it left more than 8,400 dead, recalled Maria Isabel Salvador, the UN special representative for Haiti, Thursday, January 25, before the Security Council. An increase of 122% compared to 2022, which arises from “multiple protracted crises [that] are reaching a critical point”, she pointed out.

In October, Kenyan President William Ruto announced the deployment of a thousand police officers, from “early 2024”. The decision was validated by Parliament a month later. But opponent Ekuru Aukot appealed to the Nairobi High Court, arguing that this mission was unconstitutional because it had no legal basis.

The High Court ruled in his favor on Friday January 26. In his judgment, Judge Enock Chacha Mwita announced that “the National Security Council [an entity comprising the president, four ministers and the heads of the police and the army] does not have a mandate to deploy agents of the National Police outside Kenya”, as he can do for soldiers of the national army.

“All the way to the Supreme Court”

The verdict puts an end to William Ruto’s ambitions. However, his administration has already made several preparatory trips to Port-au-Prince and has received the promise of funding from the United States to the tune of $100 million (95 million euros) to support the operation.

The spokesperson for the Kenyan president, Isaac Mwaura, now assures that “the government, in its desire to respect the rule of law, will appeal the decision of the High Court”, recalling the multiple contributions of Kenyan peacekeepers by the past, in Liberia, Yugoslavia and South Sudan. “We are still waiting for them at the Court of Appeal and we will go to the Supreme Court,” retorted opponent Ekuru Aukot. No date has yet been communicated.

In the presidential camp, we want to believe that the court decision is only a temporary delay. Especially since Kenya is under pressure from its international partners, first and foremost Washington, which acts both as the main political and financial support of the mission and which continues to count on deployment in the first quarter of 2024.

Port-au-Prince does not expect anything else. “Every day that passes without this much-hoped-for support is one day too many for us to live in the hell of gangs,” declared Jean Victor Généus, the Haitian Minister of Foreign Affairs, before the UN Security Council. UN, Thursday.

Haiti is the scene of a serious political crisis, out of control since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Gangs hold nearly 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince and impose their law there through violence.

One of the tasks of the international force, beyond securing the strategic infrastructure of the capital, will be to dispossess the gangs of some 600,000 weapons in circulation in the country. To do this, the future force must bring together around 2,000 police officers and special forces, from Kenya, but also from the Bahamas, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda. In the event of a prolonged blockage by the Kenyan justice system, the UN Security Council will be forced to find another candidate to lead the mission.