Aukot petitions High Court to halt Ruto’s Haiti mission

Haiti

Police officers patrol a neighbourhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince on April 25, 2023. Between April 14 and 19, clashes between rival gangs left nearly 70 people dead, according to a United Nations statement released April 24

Photo credit: AFP

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Dr Aukot faults President Ruto for planning to deploy police officers outside Kenya at a time the force has been unable to curb tribal violence in Lamu County.

Dr Aukot insists that the Haiti government has never requested Kenya for assistance in curbing gangs that have overrun the island nation.

Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot has sued President William Ruto and his administration in a bid to block a peacekeeping mission that will see the deployment of at least 1,000 police officers to the gang-ridden nation.

Dr Aukot, a 2017 presidential candidate, filed a petition before the High Court on Friday claiming that Kenya’s bid to lead a UN-approved force into the Caribbean island nation is in gross violation of the Constitution.

He faults President Ruto for planning to deploy police officers outside Kenya at a time the force has been unable to curb tribal violence in Lamu County, where members of one community have been targeted for death.

Dr Aukot adds that Kenya has not ratified any law or treaty to allow deployment of police officers outside the country.

President Ruto has been listed as a respondent alongside the National Security Council, Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, and Attorney-General Justin Muturi.

In his bid to block the deployment, Dr Aukot insists that the Haiti government has never requested Kenya for assistance in curbing gangs that have overrun the island nation and now control at least 75 per cent of its capital city, Port-au-Prince.

Charles Midenga, Dr Aukot’s lawyer, has asked the court to suspend the Haiti mission pending hearing and determination of the case.

Mr Midenga argues that deployment of police officers outside Kenya is a matter of great public interest hence the Constitution and other supporting legislation has to be followed to the letter.

Dr Aukot has also asked the High Court to declare sections 107, 108 and 109 of the National Police Service Act unconstitutional, as they clash with the Constitution.

The sections of the police service laws allow the President to deploy police officers to other countries that have good legal rapport with Kenya.

Dr Aukot argues that the three laws are in conflict with Articles 240 and 243 of the Constitution.

Article 240 gives authority to the National Security Council to deploy national forces outside the country. Article 243 establishes the National Police Service and gives it authority to operate throughout Kenya, while allowing Parliament to enact further laws to govern its enforcement.

Dr Aukot holds that Article 243 restricts the work of police officers to within Kenya’s borders.

“Haiti is not a “reciprocating” country as per the definition provided in section 107 of the (NPS) Act. Even if Haiti was a reciprocating country, which is vehemently denied, Haiti has not made any application for deployment of Kenyan police service to their country and the deployment is based on a UN Security Council resolution passed on October 2, 2023, which in any case cannot supersede the provisions of the Constitution and the Act,” Dr Aukot says in court papers.

“To the extent that sections 107, 108 and 109 of the (NPS) Act provide for deployment of the service under reciprocal arrangements with reciprocating countries, the said sections are unconstitutional since they offend Articles 240 (8) and 243 (3) of the Constitution, which provide respectively that only Kenya Defence Forces can be deployed out of Kenya and that the National Police Service is a national service and shall function throughout Kenya,” Dr Aukot adds.

Alfred Mutua in July, while serving as Foreign Affairs minister, revealed that Kenya had offered to deploy 1,000 police officers to Haiti following talks with the Friends of Haiti Group of Nations.

In September, President Ruto confirmed the move following a 30-minute phone call with US President Joe Biden.

On October 2, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of international forces to Haiti to be led by Kenya.

Dr Aukot now says that President Ruto confirmed the deployment of police officers to Haiti without Cabinet approval in violation of due process.

He also faults President Ruto for failing to learn from the 2004 deployment of French and American militaries to Haiti, which saw several soldiers from both countries killed without a permanent resolution of gang violence.

At the time, gang-led attacks saw President Jean-Bertrand Aristide overthrown. The former President himself used street gangs to rein-in his detractors.

“It is a matter of international notoriety that many countries, including the United States and France have deployed armed forces to Haiti before, resulting in regrettable consequences and tears. It is an established fact that Haiti is a banana republic controlled by over 200 armed gangs and the Kenyan police men and women are being offered recklessly as cannon fodder,” Dr Aukot says in court papers.

Dr Aukot has faulted National Assembly Speaker Mr Wetang’ula for failing to facilitate public participation before the resolution to deploy police officers to Haiti.