Dominican Republic should stop sending stateless people to Haiti: Haitian PM Evans Paul,tells The Oslo Times
Evans Paul is a Haitian politician and former president of the Democratic United Committee. He was elected as mayor of Port-au-Prince in the 1990 elections that brought Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s National Front for Change and Democracy party to power. He made an unsuccessful run for President of Haiti in the 2006 elections under the Democratic Alliance Party banner. He was leader of the Convergence Démocratique prior to the 2004 Haitian coup d’état which overthrew Aristide. On December 25, 2014, President Michel Martelly announced via Twitter his nomination of Evans Paul as Haiti’s new prime minister.
Prime Minister of Haiti Evans Paul spoke to The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor-in-Chief Hatef Mokhtar about his visit to Oslo and political as well as human rights situation in Haiti.
The Excerpts below give us an insight into the interesting talk that followed:
Thank you for joining us at The Oslo Times International News Network. Could you tell us about your trip to Oslo and how it turned out?
It has been excellent in Oslo. I was very impressed by the quality and architecture along with the excellent hospitality of the authorities provided by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. Our delegation including myself is extremely happy about this trip.
Coming to a more somber issue, what is the situation of Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic. Ther have been reports that Dominican Republic is planning to deport refugees back to Haiti. Could you shed some lights on this situation?
This is a serious issue that has the risk of turning out into a humanitarian crisis. The Dominican republic is threatening to send back 300,000 immigrants back, they have already sent back around 16,000 but the number has slowed down in the last few days. The way how these deportations have taken place is the real problem. The Dominican Republic has refused to sign a memorandum of understanding on repatriation so people have come across without any organization.
The human conditions are not satisfactory because they lack support. In numerous instances, even the Dominicans are sent sent to Haiti because they are from Asian origin. Citizenship is defined by where you were born but a racial discrimination has taken place. If we look at the 1929 law,everybody who shifted there after 1929 is thought to be in transit even if the family goes back several generations. This forms a situation where you are threatening to send back dead people. It’s highly complicated.
So what is the solution? What is your government doing to improve such racial discrimination? And what is your demand from the international community, especially those organizations working on improving the rights of people and that of immigrants’?
We are asking for three things: One, stop sending stateless people, those whom we don’t consider as causasuans. Two, the two nations should negotiate on a memorandum of understanging, especially if they want to send back people who are illegal and in that case they should atleast abide by international conventions. There are more than 50 illegal crossings over the frontier. We would like to know the name and the profile of the people they are sending back, the number of people coming and their background apart from the medical condition. Lately, there was a Nigerian citizen who had come to the Dominican Republic and had been in prison there.
I think this shows that the Dominican Republic is acting out of any form of consideration for their neighbors. Our country has given a lot of support for the Dominican Republic. Whether in the labor force or infrastructure building, or farming and tourism, you will find Haitians everywhere in the Dominican Republic.
Additionally, we also buy goods worth two million from Dominican Republic every year. This money comes from the Diaspora located in the United states and Europe. What we are asking for is that the international community should help us manage this situation, particularly the issue of stateless people. People who have not been to school, help give humanitarian help to Haitians who are living illegally in the Dominican Republic. Thirdly, if there are people who want to invest in Haiti, we have 44 agricultural firms capable to create employment and prevent people from going to Dominican Republic and get humiliated.
Regarding the prisoners in your country, international reports show that over 9,000 people did not receive a trail last year. And this has been going on for years as there are people who have been waiting for trial. What do you have to say about this?
It is a problem relating to the system we have been trying to improve. I have been in prison for political reasons and I am against any abuse of the Judiciary. The problem is the time when they are brought to the court. The other problem is that the government does not have much control over the Judiciary as it is independent. There are other problems as well. The judges havn’t been appointed since the time I took over. All the courts are set up, and now the judges need to get to work and speed up the cases because there are a lot of people awaiting trial. This is one of the major concerns of our government. Its not only about how people spend time in jail or the way they are tried. The conditions under which they are held are terrible.
Now switching to the context of Human Rights and Freedom. We have heard a lot of reports regarding media freedom and access to information, there are journalists being kidnapped, and being tortured in prison. Once being a journalist yourself and a political prisoner who knows the pain of being in prison and now as a responsible figure in Haiti, how do you think such acts of atrocity can be bottled up and brought under control?
Well, there is obviously no policy that promotes torture in Haiti. But there have been derogations to this rule and they have been punished. For example, there was someone accused of kidnapping but he was released by the judge. There is a rumor that the person is close to the president but I can tell you that I did what had to be done. The judge has been relieved off his duty and I have appealed against the decision. This is a decision that I took independently. It has not affected by relationship with the President. I am very concerned about public safety and security, the way in which the Judiciary works. These conditions definitely require a lot of attention.
Now for my last question, which many people consider philosophical, what do Human Rights mean to you?
For me Human Rights are fundamental. I have always defended human rights. I was arrested 14 times and sometimes tortured. I spent six years of my life resisting. So, I know what the violation of Human Rights means. I certainly could not accept this sort of thing under my government. There is freedom of press in Haiti now and any misgivings are not tolerated. There are a lot of Human Rights organizations working in Haiti and no forms of persecutions too. For example, in order to manage the flow of refugees coming into the country, there is a joint committee under me. It consists of state authorities and representatives of the Human Rights organizations.
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