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Not enough cops, too much corruption

Critics of President Ruto's plan to deploy police support to Port au Prince are adding to logistical delays

The scale of the challenge facing the Kenyan police as they prepare to support the Haitian National Police in its fights against criminal gangs has been spelt out in a report by Belgium-based International Crisis Group published on 5 January.

Chief among the problems facing the new force are staff shortages. There are currently fewer than 10,000 police officers reckoned to be on duty at any time in a country of more than 11 million people. Ideally, there should be some 25,000 active officers, says the UN.

In its report, the ICG warned that the new international police force would need to sever 'the strong bond between gangs and Haitian business and political elites.'

In addition to corruption, and the links between the police, politicians and gangs, the report pointed to overcrowded prisons and difficulties protecting civilians in urban warfare among the main challenges facing the mission.

The international community was quick to accept the offer by Kenya's President William Ruto in July for around 1,000 of his police officers to lead a mission to train and support the Haitian police in their battles against criminal gangs on the Caribbean state (AC Vol 64 No 16, Kenyan cops vs Haitian gangs). The UN Security Council formally approved the plan in October, with the United States immediately pledging US$100m in funding (Dispatches, 15/11/23, Finance needed before UN police mission, say ministers).

Kenya's deployment has been held up by disputes over funding and training, and by domestic opposition to the mission by the opposition politicians in Nairobi, who filed a legal petition challenging whether the mission is in line with the national constitution.

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