Haiti mission to cost Kenya Sh36bn in a year as MPs poke holes in deployment

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

Kenya will spend Sh36 billion on deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti over a period of one year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told MPs on Thursday.

Appearing before the joint security committee of both the National Assembly and Senate, which is conducting public participation over the matter, Prof Kindiki told MPs the money will go towards training, administration support, transport, purchase of technical equipment, general equipment and purchase of weapon, ammo and anti-riot gear.

The CS told the team that part of the Sh36 billion, which was drawn from taxpayers’ coffers has already been spent but will be refunded by the United Nations.

“The cost of implementation of the mission shall be borne through voluntary contributions by United Nations member states and organisations to a trust fund,” Prof Kindiki told MPs.

Prof Kindiki while assuring the committee that every money that Kenya will spend towards will be refunded by the United Nations Security Council said Kenya is not the only country deploying their police officers to strife-torn Haiti.

1,000 officers

Other nations also in the mission include Senegal (350), Burundi (250), Chile, Jamaica, Ecuador, Barbados (200) and Seychelles that will deploy 190 officers.

He told the committee that the deployment of the 1,000 officers will not jeopardise security of the country as there are enough officers that will remain locally to ensure the safety of Kenyans.

Prof Kindiki who appeared before the committee alongside Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome urged parliament to approve the deployment of the officers saying has international obligation to engage in such missions.

Mr Koome told MPs that the officers that have been chosen for the mission are from different specialised units whom he expressed confidence are up to the task.

According to the breakdown, the 1,000 officers deployed to Haiti will be led one Assistant Inspector General who will be the overall mission commander, under him will be one commissioner of police that will be in charge of operation, one commissioner of police that will be the chief of staff and another that will be in charge of chief of logistics.

Mr Koome said the remaining 96 personnel of the headquarters team will be drawn from statcom, intelligence, investigations and other technical agencies.

The second layer of officers to be deployed to Haiti shall include five commanders, five deputy formed police unit commanders and 25 other officers drawn from support service officers, police intelligence officers, liaison officers and duty officers  

There will also be five platoon commanders with each five officers from each platoon and another 25 officers drawn from deputy platoon commanders, 25 sergeants and senior sergeants and another 135 corporals. There will also be 655 constables that will be deployed to the mission.

“We have carefully chosen these officers, taken them through interviews, checked their medical fitness and we are confident that they are fully prepared for the mission ahead,” Mr Koome told MPs.

“I want to urge parliament to allow us to deploy the officers to Haiti because what is going on in Haiti cannot be allowed to go on anymore. The violation of human rights going on there cannot be tolerated,” he added.

Haiti police

Mr Koome told MPs that the main task of Kenyan police officers will be to provide overall command, support Haiti police on operations and planning, capacity building of the Haiti police officers, and protect critical infrastructure in Haiti such as airports, ports, schools and health centres.

The Kenyan officers will also ensure safe access of humanitarian aid by Haitians, maintain basic law and order, make arrests and detention in full compliance of the law.

The lawmakers however poked holes in the deployment saying there are many gaps that are yet to be addressed.

In particular, MPs want the issue of insurance of the officers that will be deployed addressed, the number to be reduced to 500 officers and compensation put in place for families that will lose their loved ones in the mission.

Kisumu woman representative however opposed the deployment terming it a luxury that Kenya cannot afford at the moment.

“To me, sending 1,000 officers to Haiti is a luxury. There is no way we should deny Kenyans security for a country that is not even able to protect themselves,” Ms Buyu said.

The MPs also termed the deployment illegal, saying in the constitution only Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) can be deployed to such missions as stipulated in Article 243 of the constitution.

“The constitution does not permit police officers to be deployed to another country to maintain law and order. That is reserved for KDF,” said Homa Bay 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 for such assignments.

“I’m skeptical about this deployment, other countries with more trained officers have withdrawn their officers. We should be cautious on this,” Ms Nyamu said.

The committee said it will meet other stakeholders before retreating to write its report that will be tabled in parliament in order for MPs to make formal approval or rejection of the deployment.