Kenya-Led Security Mission Prepares For Deployment In Haiti

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A Kenyan delegation arrived last week in crisis-torn Haiti, setting the stage for deployment of a mission set to assist Haitian police in dealing with criminal groups behind the violence and chaos in Port au Prince, the country’s capital.

The Kenyan-led mission, authorized by the United Nations Security Council in October 2023, is expected to be deployed soon. Its mandate is to assist Haitian police in securing key infrastructure and fighting criminal groups, which control nearly all the country’s capital and are responsible for widespread abuses.

A delegation, including the commander of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, arrived on May 20 and assessed the United States government’s preparations for the mission’s deployment. Kenyan President William Ruto recently met with US President Joe Biden in Washington, who pledged more support to the MSS.

A key question is whether the countries involved are taking sufficient steps to ensure the MSS respects human rights. The US government confirmed to Human Rights Watch it is vetting all MSS personnel as required by US law and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is collaborating on the design of the mission’s regulatory framework. Haiti’s transitional presidential council announced the Haitian police will oversee the MSS operation, and that the upcoming national security council will supervise and define the mission’s assistance.

The UN Security Council has yet to receive the required information from the MSS on the rules of engagement, human rights due diligence for the forces, human rights safeguards, and accountability mechanisms.

The MSS also faces legal and funding hurdles. These include a January 26 Kenyan High Court decision finding the order to deploy police officers to Haiti unconstitutional. An appeal is pending, and a new lawsuit on the same grounds is scheduled for a hearing in June. The mission’s trust fund has received US$21 million, far below the estimated initial operational costs of US$600 million.

Haitians urgently need rights-respecting international support to restore security. Governments, especially the United States, France, and from Latin America and the Caribbean, should ensure the mission the UN authorized has the necessary funding, personnel, and technical capacities.

To avoid repeating the failures and abuses in past international responses, members of the UN Security Council should demand on all troop-contributing countries to implement a robust human rights due diligence policy, including an independent oversight mechanism, involving Haitian civil society, to monitor and report on the conduct of the Haitian National Police and MSS personnel.

Given the complexity of Haiti’s crisis, a comprehensive approach rooted in human rights principles is essential. Haitians deserve robust measures to ensure full compliance with international law and respect for their human rights, and transparency about them.

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