Haiti mission: MPs demand answers before approving deployment of Kenyan troops

Police recruits march during a past passing-out parade at Kiganjo Training College in Nyeri County. Some Kenya Kwanza MPs expressed their reservations against the government's plan to deploy 1000 police officers to Haiti

Parliament is demanding answers from the government on at least seven critical issues before lawmakers can approve the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti.

In a meeting with Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, the joint security committee of the National Assembly and the Senate, which is conducting public engagement on the matter, said the seven issues must be satisfactorily addressed before the Kenyan troops can leave for the mission.

Among the issues raised by members of the committee include a well-defined insurance package for the officers who will be deployed to Haiti, compensation for the families of the officers left behind in case of loss or injury that may incapacitate the officers who are considered breadwinners, and that no taxpayers' money shall be spent on the mission.

The MPs also want the government to clarify whether there will be a change of guard or whether the 1,000 officers will only serve for a full year and, if so, after how long the ministry should consider reducing the number to 500 so as to avoid jeopardising security at home.

The MPs also demanded a report from a multi-agency team from Kenya that carried out an assessment mission to Haiti on the viability of the mission, saying they would only make recommendations on approval after receiving the team's findings.

The team, which included the Deputy Inspector General of Police, was in Haiti between August 16 and 27 to assess the feasibility and viability of the request by the Haitian authorities for Kenya to consider leading a multinational force.

Multinational support

Prof Kindiki told MPs that the assessment report established that Kenya has the required capacity and capability to support the Haitian National Police as part of a multinational support mission.

The team also found that the security support mission was accepted in Haiti and would be supported by the Haitian authorities. The report was due to be handed over to MPs on Thursday evening.

Kenya is on the verge of deploying 1,000 National Police Service (NPS) officers to the war-torn Caribbean nation under the Multi-National Security Support (MSS), as well as pitching for climate change mitigation measures and advocating for a borderless African continent, among other issues.

Last month, MPs questioned the government's decision to send 1,000 police officers to Haiti.

The lawmakers lamented that the government was sending Kenyan officers to a 'death trap' in the mission, raising concerns about who was behind the push to send the officers to the troubled nation.

Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch, who raised the issue, said the deployment of the officers did not meet the requirements of the National Police Service Commission Act, sections 107 and 108, which set out the conditions for sending officers on a foreign mission.

Legal questions

MPs have also raised legal questions about the deployment, saying that according to the Constitution, the mission the officers are about to embark on is a reserve of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

"The constitution does not permit police officers to be deployed to another country to maintain law and order. That is reserved for the KDF," said Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma.

Nominated MP Karen Nyamu also opposed the deployment, saying Kenyan officers are not the best trained in the world to be sent on such assignments.

"I am sceptical about this deployment, other countries with better-trained officers have withdrawn their officers. We should be cautious about this," said Ms Nyamu.

Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere said there was a need for Kenya to also send medical personnel to accompany the officers to take care of their mental wellness during the mission.

"Are we going to have medical personnel who will accompany the officers to take care of the mental wellness of our officers because we will have people who will be away from home and exposed to different cultures? Ms Korere asked.

Prof Kindiki assured the MPs that every coin Kenya spends on preparing its officers for the mission will be reimbursed by the UN Security Council.

 The CS told the committee that issues of allowances and personal emoluments of the officers are being negotiated. He said the first group of officers will be deployed early next year and that they will be deployed in batches.