A Kenyan court on Monday temporarily suspended a government plan to send police to Haiti on a U.N.-backed mission aiming to restore calm to the gang-infested Caribbean nation.
The U.N. Security Council last week approved a Kenyan-led multinational security force for the troubled country, with Nairobi promising 1,000 police officers.
But a Nairobi court granted an interim injunction on Monday in a case brought by opposition politician Ekuru Aukot, who argued the deployment was unconstitutional as it was not backed by any law or treaty.
Aukot, a lawyer who helped draft Kenya's revised 2010 constitution, charged that Kenya was deploying its police abroad at a time it had failed to quell insecurity within its own borders.
"I am satisfied that the application and petition raise substantial issues of national importance and public interest that require urgent consideration," High Court judge Enock Mwita ruled.
"A conservatory order is hereby issued restraining the respondents from deploying police officers to Haiti or any other country until 24th October 2023," the ruling seen by AFP said.
Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, and the economy and public health system also in tatters.
Details of Kenya's deployment are still not finalized, with parliament yet to approve the move as required by law.
The U.N.-backed mission — initially approved for one year — envisions Kenyan police on the offensive with their Haitian counterparts, who are outnumbered and outgunned by gang members.
The force aims to provide "operational support to the Haitian National Police, including building its capacity through the planning and conduct of joint security support operations," according to the U.N. resolution passed last week.
The mission will also aim to create conditions to hold elections, which have not taken place in Haiti since 2016.
Kenya's involvement has been criticized at home, with many questioning the wisdom of such a risky mission.
Rights watchdogs also say Kenyan police have a history of using sometimes lethal force against civilians, and that they pose an unacceptable risk in Haiti where foreign troops have committed abuses in past interventions.
President William Ruto has defended the deployment as a "mission for humanity."
Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said on Sunday the state will ensure it seeks the requisite parliamentary approvals and will not employ "any shortcuts."
"Kenyans should not worry. We still have insecurity issues, but we will ensure that the deployment does not compromise the safety of our nation," Kindiki said.
Kenya is seen as a democratic anchor in East Africa and has participated in peacekeeping operations in its immediate region including in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia as well as other parts of the world.