Kenyan President William Ruto says he will appeal last week’s court ruling that rejected the legality of the planned deployment of Kenyan police officers to assist the government of Haiti to restore the rule of law.
Ruto promised last year that Kenya would lead a multinational force to help fight gangs in the troubled Caribbean nation, but critics challenged his legal authority.
Friday’s court ruling didn’t come as a surprise because procedure was not followed said, Dr. Francis Khayundi, assistant professor of international law at the United States International University Africa in Nairobi.
“Under article 240 of the constitution that talks about the National Security Council, amongst the role and functions of the security council, there was no mention that it had a role to do with deploying of the police officers. Their thinking was that only the armed forces can be sent or deployed outside of the territory of the country and not the police service,” he said.
The ruling also said that Kenya could’ve deployed its police officers only if a so-called “reciprocal arrangement” exists between the two nations.
Khayundi told VOA that the court action puts President Ruto in a difficult position, coming after the U.N. Security Council approved a Kenya-led multinational security force aimed at helping combat violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean nation.
“It’s a bit of [a] catch 22 situation; being between a rock and a hard place particularly for Kenya, here we are talking about the executive. For those who believe in the rule of law, of course it’s victory,” he said.
In a statement, Ruto’s government reiterated its commitment to honoring the country’s international obligations and says it will appeal the court ruling. That statement was welcomed by some in Haiti.
A local Haitian says, “it’s their country [Kenya], they make their decisions but as an ally country of Haiti, we are waiting for them. As the president says, it’s not over yet.”
Khayundi says while the Kenya government has the right to appeal, he wonders on which grounds it plans to do so.
“It’ll be interesting to see their grounds of appeal but that is a right they have,” he said. For me, I would suggest that the executive try and regularize or normalize that gap because if we don’t have the legal framework, then no appeal can put in place a legal framework.”
Tirana Hassan, Human Rights Watch Executive Director told a U.N. Security Council meeting last week that while plans for the deployment of the Kenyan-led force have stalled, the situation for many Haitians has worsened.
“Killings, kidnappings, sexual violence and other abuses continue at a staggering rate, with criminal group activities and fighting intensifying and spreading,” said Hassan.
The challenge to the deployment was brought to court by three petitioners, including opposition politician and constitutional lawyer Ekuru Aukot, who told VOA at the time the proposed deployment was unconstitutional.
Reacting to the ruling on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Aukot pleaded for Ruto to accept the court’s decision and called for the government to focus on providing security to troubled regions inside Kenya including his own village.