Officials sent to Haiti ahead of police mission

The CS revealed that a second assessment team, headed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry would head to the Caribbean nation next week "to ensure diplomatic and legal requirements are in place".

"We are doing due diligence and the visits are meant to ensure that we have a comprehensive assessment before any legal steps are initiated," Kindiki told the committee chaired by Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo.

He said the report of the second assessment would determine whether Kenya would go ahead with the mission. Koome revealed that "a lot of planning" had gone into the mission aimed at "building the capacity of the existing police force in Haiti".

"We are identifying officers to serve in Haiti and it is a competitive process. Many officers are eager to serve," said the IG, adding that the officers will undergo rigorous medical checks and training as well as take French lessons.

In August last year, Haiti's transitional government requested the United Nation's intervention in addressing the insecurity crisis. The UN Security Council approved the request.

Mid this year, Kenya offered to lead the Multinational Security Support mission in Haiti, committing to deploy 1,000 officers. However, the peace mission hangs in the balance following a High Court order that temporarily halted the deployment.

Kindiki said the National Security Council, chaired by President William Ruto, will write to Parliament to seek approval for deployment, in line with Article 240 of the Constitution.

The Standard has learnt that those deployed are expected to assist in combating criminal gangs responsible for street violence, kidnappings and extortion that has been disturbing the Island nation in the recent past.

On Monday, High Court judge Chacha Mwita issued an order stopping the deployment to Haiti following a case filed by Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot.

Aukot sued President Ruto, the Interior CS, Police IG, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, and the National Security Council.

Already, Vigilance House has called on formation commanders to submit names of officers who are suitable for deployment for "special assignment."

In what appears to be a tactical approach to deviate from the raging storm over the deployment, the communication is not signed or even dated by the releasing officer.

Such tactics, according to officers privy to the happenings, are employed when the police service does not want to be seen to contravene orders by other constitutional entities such as the courts.

From the communication, it's clear that the government's plan was to send officers from the tactical units of GSU and Administration Police leaving out officers serving in the regular police and DCI.

Formation commanders have been directed to submit names of two police officers in the ranks of police constable and one officer in the rank of corporal.

Officers seeking to undertake this 'special assignment' are required to be aged between 20 and 55.

The officers must also be physically and medically fit and have proven ability in handling firearms. They must also possess high level marksman skills. The officers are also required to be fluent in English.

The government also intends to deploy officers aged between 20 and 40 who are specialised in areas such as mechanics, communication and counseling, drivers and drone operator.

The officers under this category must have served as police officers for a period not less than two years.

But Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma argued that the police did not qualify for the said provision as they were not a "force", but a "service."

"All the previous deployments happened during the old constitutional regime, when the police was still a force," Kaluma said.

"The use of force is just semantic. We avoided to use the word force for sentimental purposes... the word force does not limit it to the Kenya Defence Forces and if the drafters wanted so they would have said so," Kindiki countered.

The Interior CS defended the mission, saying it was a "great honour" that Kenya had been tasked to lead the mission.

"It is the intent of the government to accede to the request by the United Nations Security Council," said Kindiki, adding that the deployment would have no financial implications on Kenyans.

But as the CS assured the Security committee that the deployment was a well-informed move, the opposition was up in arms.

In a stinging statement issued yesterday, Raila Odinga's ODM questioned the rationale to deploy police to Haiti.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna termed the move "ill-advised, opportunistic and undermining the spirit of Pan-Africaism" as well as, compromising Kenya's security.

The opposition argued that the police lacks the constitutional mandate of external deployment, a role ODM said is reserved for KDF, highlighting the military's previous missions abroad.

"But now, for some strange reason, the Ruto regime has arbitrarily decided to send, not the military but the police, to Haiti, a country far away on the Western Hemisphere with no strategic geopolitical value to Kenya. In fact, this is not the main worry in this plan shrouded in mystery," the Nairobi senator said.

But Kindiki dismissed the claims, highlighting previous deployment of the police to peace-keeping missions in Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, among others, missions that date back to the late 1980s.

"We are not sending our officers as guinea pigs. They have been engaged in previous missions."