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Stopping The Haiti Hemorrhage: Henry And Ruto Sign Deal On Reciprocity

The Oasis Reporters

 

March 4, 2024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police officers patrol a neighborhood amid gang-related violence in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 25, 2023.Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

 

By FP



Acting Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Kenyan President William Ruto signed a “reciprocal agreement” in Nairobi on Friday that will allow the deployment of around 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Port-au-Prince.



The mission, backed by the United Nations and financed mostly by the United States, would see Kenyan police work with the Haitian National Police to protect hospitals, schools, airports, and other key infrastructure from gangs.



Henry and Ruto did not provide a timeline for deployment but said they are discussing plans to fast-track the process.

 

“We believe this is a historic duty because peace in Haiti is good for the world as a whole,” Ruto said. Gangs control around 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, and related violence killed more than 4,700 Haitians last year—an increase of nearly 120 percent from 2022.

 

Kenya’s High Court initially declared the deployment plan unconstitutional in January despite the U.N. Security Council approving the mission in October 2023.

 

 

The court argued that foreign police deployments require a reciprocal agreement with the host country, which it said Haiti did not provide. Ruto vowed to appeal the decision, but Friday’s agreement may satisfy the court’s demands.

 

Still, rights groups condemned the Haiti mission, pointing to the Kenyan police force’s poor human rights record and past failures to fight terrorists and other criminals. Activists also argued that Henry did not have the legal right to sign Friday’s agreement because he is not an elected leader.

 

 

Henry took power in July 2021 following the assassination of then-President Jovenel Moïse. He pledged to hold elections by Feb. 7 of this year but has repeatedly delayed the vote.


On Wednesday, Caribbean leaders attending the four-day Caribbean Community summit in Guyana announced that Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, with U.S., Canadian, and U.N. officials set to help Port-au-Prince prepare for the nationwide vote.



“You can put as many police forces as possible in Haiti, [but] if there is no political solution, the problem will not be solved,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday.




“We believe this is a historic duty because peace in Haiti is good for the world as a whole,” Ruto said. Gangs control around 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, and related violence killed more than 4,700 Haitians last year—an increase of nearly 120 percent from 2022.




Kenya’s High Court initially declared the deployment plan unconstitutional in January despite the U.N. Security Council approving the mission in October 2023.



The court argued that foreign police deployments require a reciprocal agreement with the host country, which it said Haiti did not provide. Ruto vowed to appeal the decision, but Friday’s agreement may satisfy the court’s demands.




Still, rights groups condemned the Haiti mission, pointing to the Kenyan police force’s poor human rights record and past failures to fight terrorists and other criminals. Activists also argued that Henry did not have the legal right to sign Friday’s agreement because he is not an elected leader.




Henry took power in July 2021 following the assassination of then-President Jovenel Moïse. He pledged to hold elections by Feb. 7 of this year but has repeatedly delayed the vote.




On Wednesday, Caribbean leaders attending the four-day Caribbean Community summit in Guyana announced that Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, with U.S., Canadian, and U.N. officials set to help Port-au-Prince prepare for the nationwide vote.

 



“You can put as many police forces as possible in Haiti, [but] if there is no political solution, the problem will not be solved,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday.





Meanwhile, Henry’s trip to Kenya exacerbated ongoing gang violence back home. Gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, who heads the G9 Family and Allies group, announced a coordinated effort on Thursday to oust Henry from power.



Under Chérizier’s direction, gang members set two police stations on fire, targeted a police academy, attacked Toussaint-Louverture International Airport, and briefly took students at State University of Haiti hostage. At least four police officers were killed and five others wounded.



“Haiti is hemorrhaging,” Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said. “We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the security situation.” The Bahamas – along with Benin, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Chad, and Barbados—have expressed their willingness to aid Kenya in its police deployment.


A Foreign Policy report.





Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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