BY CARA ANNA
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — As the U.S. government was considering Kenya to lead a multinational force in Haiti, it was also openly warning Kenyan police officers against violent abuses. Now 1,000 of those officers might head to Haiti to take on gang warfare.
It’s a challenging turn for a police force long accused by rights watchdogs of killings and torture, including gunning down civilians during Kenya’s COVID-19 curfew. One local group confirmed that officers fatally shot more than 30 people in July, all of them in Kenya’s poorest neighborhoods, during opposition-called protests over the rising cost of living.
“We are saddened by the loss of life and concerned by high levels of violence, including the use of live rounds” during those protests, the U.S. said in a joint statement with 11 other nations in mid-July.
Now the U.S., as this month’s president of the U.N. Security Council, is preparing to put forward a resolution to authorize a mission in Haiti led by Kenyan police, who have relatively little overseas experience in such large numbers and don’t speak French, which is used in Haiti.
“This is not a traditional peacekeeping force,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Tuesday.
For more than nine months, the U.N. had appealed unsuccessfully for a country to lead an effort to restore order to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.