Kenyan police well prepared for Haiti duty

President William Ruto inspects a guard of honour during police pass-out parade at Kiganjo Police Training College on January 10, 2023. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

A lot of questions have been asked about why it is necessary for Kenya to send its police to Haiti. After all, what is Haiti to us? Why should Kenyans care? 

Haiti faces a huge challenge of crimes against humanity caused by an unprecedented wave of gang violence on its citizens. This violence has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths this year alone, over 1,050 kidnappings and thousands displaced.

The international community, through the UN Security Council has stepped in and taken a collective role of Responsibility to protect (R2P). The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle was adopted at the 2005 UN World Summit. This was after the international community finally accepted that they failed to prevent genocides like in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

It seeks to ensure the international community never again fails to stop genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  Since President William Ruto took power, Kenya has positively positioned itself within the international community and shown its readiness to contribute to well-being of the global community. And rightly so.

Haiti has a proud history that shone a light to the struggle and liberation of Africa. While thousands of miles away, it led the struggle for freedom of black people and their right to self-determination against the then-powerful French colony in the 18th century.

Consequently, they have been brutalised and carried the burden over centuries, from generation to generation, for that role. Over time their governance systems have collapsed, leading to lawlessness and anarchy with citizens living in constant danger of indiscriminate killings, kidnappings and sexual violence.

Kenyans have followed keenly as politicians and analysts give their views about the capability of deploying Kenyan police to Haiti and how it benefits them. On the other side, majority of Haitians support the deployment and hope it will help establish some normalcy. Haitians have recently developed interest in Kenya with their media reporting daily every development regarding deployment of Kenya police to Haiti.  

Meanwhile, the public here seem to doubt the capacity of Kenyan police to deal with Haiti gangs. However, these gangs are no match for the elite Kenya police units. These are young men and teens recruited from territories controlled by gangs with no weapon-handling skills or combat training.

Since April, over 260 gang members have been lynched by the population in a Bwa Kale movement to rid armed bandits in their neighborhoods. Bwa Kale, which means ‘Peeled Wood’ in Haitian Creole and a metaphor for quick justice emerged as a response to the rise in violence meted out by criminal gangs on citizens. It is citizen groups defending themselves from the gangs.

Thus, a Kenya-led multinational mission supported by the people movements, will include cutting their weapons and ammunition supply routes, isolating them, and giving opportunity for children in the ranks to surrender, be reformed and integrated back into the society. The Kenyan elite teams are well trained and prepared for such a mission.

-The writer is founder and CEO of Comcop, a safety, security and risk management firm