Kenya to spend Sh36bn on Haiti mission, MPs unhappy

Interior CS Prof Kithure Kindiki. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Kenya will spend Sh36 billion on the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti for one year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told MPs on Thursday.

Appearing before the Joint Security Committee of both the National Assembly and Senate, which is conducting public participation over the matter, Prof Kindiki told MPs the money would go towards training, administration support, transport, the purchase of technical equipment, general equipment, weapons, ammunition, and riot equipment.

The minister told the committee that part of the Sh36 billion was drawn from taxpayers’ coffers and has been spent, but the United Nations would refund the cash.

“The cost of implementation of the mission shall be borne through voluntary contributions by United Nations member states and organisations to a trust fund,” he told MPs.

Prof Kindiki, while assuring the committee that the UN Security Council would refund money spent during the mission, said Kenya is not the only country deploying police officers to Haiti. Other countries in the mission include Senegal (350), Burundi (250), Chile, Jamaica, Ecuador, Barbados (200), and the Seychelles (190).

He told the MPs that the deployment of the 1,000 officers would not jeopardise Kenya’s security, as there are enough officers who will remain behind to ensure the safety of Kenyans.

Prof Kindiki, who appeared before the committee alongside Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome, urged Parliament to approve the deployment, saying Kenya has a global obligation to engage in such missions.

Mr Koome told MPs that the officers chosen for the mission are from different special units, and he expressed confidence that they are up to the task.

An assistant inspector-general, according to the breakdown, would lead the 1,000 officers deployed to Haiti as the overall mission commander, and one commissioner of police would be in charge of the operation, one commissioner of police that will be the chief of staff and another that will be in charge of chief of logistics.

Mr Koome said the remaining 96 personnel of the headquarters team will be drawn from statcom, intelligence, investigations and other technical agencies.

The second layer of officers to be deployed in Haiti will be drawn from formed police unit who shall include five commanders, five deputy formed police unit commanders and 25 other officers drawn from support service officers, police intelligence officers, liaison officers and duty officers

There will also be five platoon commanders with each five officers from each platoon and another 25 officers drawn from deputy platoon commanders, 25 sergeants and senior sergeants and another 135 corporals. There will also be 655 constables that will be deployed to the mission.

“We have carefully chosen these officers, taken them through interviews, checked their medical fitness and we are confident that they are fully prepared for the mission ahead,” Mr Koome told MPs.

“I want to urge parliament to allow us to deploy the officers to Haiti because what is going on in Haiti cannot be allowed to go on anymore. The violation of human rights going on there cannot be tolerated,” he added.

Mr Koome told MPs that the main task of Kenyan police officers will be to provide overall command, support Haiti police on operations and planning, capacity building of the Haiti police officers, and protect critical infrastructure in Haiti such as airports, ports, schools and health centres.

The Kenyan officers will also ensure safe access to humanitarian aid by Haitians, maintain basic law and order, and make arrests and detention in full compliance with the law.

The lawmakers however poked holes in the deployment saying there are many gaps that are yet to be addressed.

In particular, MPs want the issue of insurance for the officers that will be deployed addressed, the number to be reduced to 500 officers and compensation put in place for families that will lose their loved ones in the mission

Kisumu woman representatives however opposed the deployment terming it a luxury that Kenya cannot afford at the moment.

“To me, sending 1,000 officers to Haiti is a luxury. There is no way we should deny Kenyans security for a country that is not even able to protect themselves,” Ms Buyu said.

The MPs also termed the deployment illegal, saying in the constitution only Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) can be deployed to such missions as stipulated in Article 243 of the constitution.

“The constitution does not permit police officers to be deployed to another country to maintain law and order. That is reserved for KDF,” said Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma.

Nominated MP Karen Nyamu also opposed the deployment saying Kenyan officers are not the best trained in the world to be sent for such assignments.

“I’m skeptical about this deployment, other countries with more trained officers have withdrawn their officers. We should be cautious on this,” Ms Nyamu said.

The committee said it will meet other stakeholders before retreating to write its report that will be tabled in parliament in order for MPs to make formal approval or rejection of the deployment.

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