Haiti protesters

A man wears a werewolf mask during a protest against insecurity, on August 7, 2023, near the Prime Minister's official house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

| Courtesy | AFP

Chilling message to Kenyan police from Haiti insiders

What you need to know:

  • Already, gang leader Jimmy Barbecue Cherizer, a former police officer has warned Kenyan police officers not to set foot in the country saying that they will deal with them ruthlessly.
  • President William Ruto has asked for more funding for the project saying that the mission will provide a different footprint in the history of international interventions in Haiti.

Civil Society Groups in Haiti have warned Kenyan police officers destined for the Caribbean nation in a multinational mission, that country gangs could be too tough for them.

This comes just days after the United Nations Security Council endorsed deployment of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission to Haiti, paving the way for countries such as Kenya to send their pledged armed personnel to the Caribbean country.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Mr Gedeon Jean, director of the Centre for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) said the move to deploy police officers from Kenya to his home country was welcome but the officers should be very cautious.

This week, Ms Gaelle Castor an opposition political leader in Haiti who doubles up as the Executive Director and Founder of Se Fanm which is a nonprofit organisation aimed at empowering Haitian women and children jetted into the country with the same message: that Kenya should be cautious.

Already, gang leader Jimmy Barbecue Cherizer, a former police officer has warned Kenyan police officers not to set foot in the country saying that they will deal with them ruthlessly. According to Mr Jean and Ms Castor, already police officers in Haiti had raised concern that the gang members were using deadly weapons which are no match with what they were being given by their government.

“Haitians appreciate the contribution that Kenya has made, because there is a need to protect people especially here where gang violence is exacerbating. However, they should know that already the Haitian police have raised concerns saying that they do not have the capacity to fight the gangs,” Mr Jean told Saturday Nation.

He, however, said Kenya could be in a position to deal with the gangs and help restore normalcy in the North America based country after accessing the situation on the ground.


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

According to Mr Jean, the officers who will be sent to Haiti should be the most experienced, and that as is, all Haitians had their fingers crossed hoping the situation will improve once the team lands there.

“I am informed that at the United Nations level, they are working to limit possible abuses, taking into account past experiences (MINUSTAH). We too are working in this direction,” he said.

The activist said they had already agreed as members of the civil society groups in Haiti that they will offer their support to any security teams that will be heading there but as long as they respect the law and also act while guided by human rights policies.

Mr Jean said if there were members of various gangs that were willing to surrender then they should also be given a chance to do so.

In as much as he thanked Kenya for deciding to assist, Mr Jean said, ultimately, the problems Haiti is facing can only be solved by Haitians and not external forces.

“However, it is not up to the multinational mission to resolve the structural factors of insecurity in Haiti: politics and economy focused on violence and crime, the flow of weapons from neighboring countries can only be solved here,” he said.

This was echoed by Ms Castor who said the problems facing Haiti that led to insecurities were purely political and should be solved by the people in her home country.

Speaking while addressing journalists at Haki Afrika offices located in Lang’ata, Nairobi county, Ms Castor warned that Kenyan police officers should know that they were dealing with gangs that were well equipped with weapons which were being constantly supplied.

“We do have concerns regarding the utilisation of Kenya and other mandated countries’ police forces in Haiti. It appears that these nations are being tasked with finding solutions to conditions that have been created by other nations who are reluctant to reveal their identities due to potential international condemnation,” Ms Castor said. HE said Kenya has a history of disrespecting human rights when dealing with local matters and their worry was that they might use the same force against the people of Haiti.

She said that they were worried that the Kenyan operation in Haiti might end up worsening the situation and causing more harm than good especially if the officers fail to “uphold the principles of rule of law, human rights and access to justice.”

According to her, Kenyan police officers should undergo a lot of training including dealing with the language barrier issue if at all they were determined to end the conflict in Haiti.

The activist said all eyes were now on the Kenyan parliament on whether they will allow their police officers to head to Haiti without taking proper considerations.

“Before deployment, Kenyan government should consider the wanting state of security in Kenya and the need to ensure safety and security of Kenyans is prioritised. These include; the terror attacks in Lamu and Tana River, the worsening situation in the border of Kisumu and Kericho and the unresolved mystery of Shakahola deaths.” She said.

Haki Afrika boss Hussein Khalid also told the Saturday Nation that Kenyan police officers should be very cautious.

He said the organisation was against the deployment of the police officers to Haiti but now the decision cannot be reversed after the UN approved it.

“The Kenyan police officers should be very cautious as they head to Haiti, they should know that the gangs there are ruthless and cannot be compared to local demonstrators who only throw stones,” he said.

He also asked the United States of America (USA) to increase the Sh14 billion annual funding to Kenya on the Haiti mission.

President William Ruto has also asked for more funding for the project saying that the mission will provide a different footprint in the history of international interventions in Haiti.

On his part, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said: “Our policemen have a very good track record across the world. The UN Security Council, after thoroughly checking on the output of our police officers, they recommended our officers to join forces with other officers across the world to bring order in Haiti. The UN has given our officers affirmation that they can be entrusted as the best in calming chaos and bringing order.”