Disquiet simmers over Kenya’s deal with the international community to dispatch 1,000 police officers to Haiti

  • 3 Oct 2023
  • 4 Mins Read
  • 〜 by James Ngunjiri

An offer by Kenya to dispatch police officers to Haiti to lead an international police force aimed at combating the gang violence that has wrecked the Caribbean nation has been met with mixed reactions from different quarters.  

Gangs are controlling most of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and Haitians face a barrage of attacks, including kidnappings for ransom and sexual violence. Hundreds of people have been displaced from their homes. 

In late July, Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua announced that Kenya was considering leading a multinational police force to help fight gangs and improve security in the violence-plagued Caribbean nation of Haiti. Since the announcement, some countries are in support of the initiative, while others are sceptical.

The offer has elicited praise and criticism internally and externally. In Kenya, rights activists are accusing the Kenyan police service of committing human rights abuses, such as shooting civilians during the nationwide protests called by the opposition, among other extra-judicial killings, which have been reported implicating police officers. 

For instance, on September 27, the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) said police were responsible for 53 deaths during the nationwide protests called by the opposition. IPOA made the revelation while appearing before the National Dialogue Committee co-chaired by Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah.  

The police have also been accused of being partisan in successive elections. “Historically, police have been seen to be partisan during electrical cycles and as IPOA we wanted to ensure that the delivery of services to the public is non-partisan,” said IPOA Chairperson Anne Makori. 

On the other hand, Haitian civil society groups are reported to have widely opposed the multinational force intervention, citing past problems caused by foreign intervention and fears that the international community would be propping up Haitian officials seen as partly responsible for the country’s predicaments. 

However, the United States (US) backs the sending of Kenyan police to the Caribbean nation despite warnings of abuse. In early August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Kenya for simply considering the mission, a sign of the difficulty in mustering international forces for Haiti, where deadly gang violence has exploded since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. 

UN General Assembly

On September 19, US President Joe Biden commended President William Ruto for his willingness to deploy Kenyan police to Haiti to help restore order. Speaking at the official opening of the 78th Session of the General Debate at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, President Biden thanked President Ruto for joining the Caribbean community in its quest for peace and willingness to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people. President Biden called on the UN Security Council to authorise the mission quickly.   

President William Ruto, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, reiterated the country’s commitment to support Haiti with a multinational force that will fight gang-related violence.

“Haiti is the ultimate test of international solidarity and collective action. The international community has failed this test so far and thus let down a people very, very badly,” President Ruto said. 

He urged the UN to approve the resolution for Kenya’s mission, stating that the international body should “urgently deliver an appropriate framework to facilitate the deployment of multinational security support as part of a holistic response to Haiti’s challenges.”


Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton said while it would be an act of pan-African solidarity for Kenya to help Haiti, he doubts Kenyan police would do anything to de-escalate the situation within the rule of law due to allegations of brutality by Kenyan police. 

Houghton further said that given Haiti’s volatility, the authorities must carefully consider how to protect the lives of the Kenyan officers who take up this assignment. 

“Haitians deserve a human right-based policing mission. They have suffered enough violence. While Kenya has a successful history of police stabilisation and policing support in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia, our officers, linguistically ill-equipped in a French and Creole-speaking country, must not be placed in harm’s way,” said Houghton.  

Houghton further stated that what ails Haiti is not only crime, but an economic crisis, poverty, and a collapsed democracy. “As the UN seeks to restore safety, perhaps it should compel the US to stem the flow of narcotic drugs, weapons, and ammunition to criminal gangs as well.”

Eyebrows are also being raised since at the centre of this deployment is the US, which is seemingly the orchestrator of the idea. However, what is of concern is that, while the US is keen on this issue, it’s not ready to take on the leadership role despite being militarily well-equipped. 


The public safety and stability of the Haitian state have been of concern for decades, and world attention was lanced by the daring July 7, 2021, attack that assassinated President  Moïse in his home. 

In October 2022, Haiti’s de facto leader, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, requested the international community to help set up a “specialised armed force” to quell the violence. 

The request for an international mission to the Caribbean nation enjoyed the backing of the US and the UN, but a deployment has been stalled for months because no country had agreed to lead such a mission to Haiti.

Some rights activists have also raised questions about the prospect of foreign intervention, stating that past missions have brought more harm than good, and urged countries to ensure adequate safeguards are in place.

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the UN Security Council to approve the mission – a “multinational force” which will be led by Kenya, which he said would be ready to deploy “in months”. He further said Washington would supply “robust financial and logistical assistance” to the proposed deployment. “We urge the international community to pledge additional personnel, as well as equipment, logistics, training and funding. We cannot be successful without this contribution,” he stated. 

A resolution is in the works so that the UN Security Council could authorise the move.