Nairobi — Amnesty International has written to the United Nations urging it to examine the human rights track record of Kenyan security forces in full before endorsing their deployment to Haiti.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council is expected to today vote on a resolution that will see Kenyan law enforcement officers lead an “international specialized force” to temporarily assist the Haitian National Police (HNP) in addressing insecurity caused by gang violence.
Renzo Pomi, Amnesty International Representative at the United Nations, pointed out recent events of usage of excessive and unnecessary force, including lethal force, by security forces in Kenya has led to increased deaths and injuries of both adults and children.
“Accordingly, we emphasize the importance of examining the human rights track record of Kenyan security forces in full before endorsing their deployment to Haiti,” Pomi stated.
“We strongly urge you to take these concerns into account when considering endorsing the deployment of the proposed force. Protection of human rights should always be at the forefront of any decision-making process.”
In the detailed letter, Amnesty International mentioned they had documented at least 30 cases of police killings of protesters, including those during the anti-government protests.
In the preliminary investigations, the nongovernmental organization has established serious human rights violations including beatings, arbitrary arrests, detention of protestors, and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of tear gas and water cannons.
In addition, Amnesty International cautioned that the Kenya police had a history of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances before endorsing their deployment to Haiti.
Amnesty International pointed out that together with other and 14 other partner organizations in the country they have documented a total of 371 people in 2021 and 2022, were reported to have been killed or disappeared in the custody of the police.
Amnesty International Representative at the United Nations pushed for public engagements and policy adoption with Haiti Civil Society, before the deployment of Kenyan police to quell gang violence.
“In addition to establishing in advance the safeguards proposed above, should also at minimum go through a meaningful consultation with Haitian civil society and adopt policies and practices that support a Haitian-led solution for long-term stability in the country,” Pomi stated.
Amnesty International is opposed to Haitians seeking sanctuary in countries in the Americas until responsible and human response safety needs to be put in place, decrying their exposure to racism and mass deportation.
“No Haitian national should be sent back to the country or to any place where they could be at real risk of serious human rights violations. Instead, they must receive access to protection without discrimination,” said Pomi.
The U.S.-drafted resolution welcomed Kenya’s offer to lead the multinational security force and stated that this would be a non-U.N. force funded by voluntary contributions.
The resolution would authorize the force for one year, with a review after nine months.
It would be allowed to provide operational support to Haiti’s National Police, which is underfunded and under-resourced, with only some 10,000 active officers for a country of more than 11 million people.
The force will be expected to help build the capacity of local police “through the planning and conduct of joint security support operations as it works to counter gangs and improve security conditions in Haiti.”
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said Tuesday that ten other nations have indicated their willingness to send troops and/or finance the multinational security support mission in the violence-hit Caribbean nation.
Haiti has been grappling with a surge in violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 at his private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, triggering calls for a security intervention to complement the efforts of understaffed and under-resourced Haiti national police force.
The Foreign Affairs CS emphasized that Kenya’s exceptional track record in peacekeeping missions around the world, coupled with a shared heritage, influenced Haiti’s decision to accept Kenyan support.
“Kenya is one of the most successful and sought-after Nations for peacekeeping Missions as we play our part as a member of the family of nations,” he told reporters in Nairobi claiming that a majority of Haitians support the Kenyan-led UN-backed intervention.
“It is because of Kenya’s stellar performance that the Government of Haiti requested Kenya to lead a Police Mission to help stabilise and bring order to their country.”
An undisclosed number of Kenyan police officers have begun taking French lessons as logistical arrangements for the multinational security support mission in Haiti commence.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said on Tuesday that the move is part of the preparatory efforts for the Kenyan security personnel who will complement the efforts of the Haiti National Police Force currently battling criminal gangs wreaking havoc in the Caribbean nation.
The two official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole, and the exercise will enable Kenyan forces to better communicate with their Haitian counterparts and the general public as they seek to restore order in the country.
However, Mutua said that the Kenya contingent will only deploy after the green-light from the United Nations Security Council adding that Kenya is actively pursuing discussions to secure the necessary support for the proposed mission.