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7189: DR/Haiti - Paraison suggests an amnesty (fwd)
From: Charles Arthur <firstname.lastname@example.org>
February 28th - The Haitian Consul to Barahona, Edwin Paraison, today
suggested to the Dominican Republic authorities that they apply an
immigration amnesty programme to benefit those Haitians who have lived in
the DR for a certain length of time.
In the course of his address at the conference "Dominican bateys: a new
reality" organised by Batey Relief Alliance, at the Dag Hammarskjold
Auditorium, United Nations, New York, the Haitian Consul solemnly declared
that there are no other alternatives that can at the same time guarantee:
the mutual interest that the two countries have in maintaining fraternal
relations and cooperation; the safeguarding of the real interests of each
State; and respect for the international conventions to which the two
nations are signatories.
Paraison highlighted the evolution of the relations between the two
countries which have, in his opinion, shown clear improvements in spite of
the difficulties in managing the migration question. The, at times, deadly
violence against Haitian citizens by Dominican soldiers during operations to
check for illegal immigrants has been a source of crisis between the two
governments during the Nineties.
In addition, he mentioned some recent progress made with a view to improving
the conditions of recruiting the Haitian sugar cane cutters. Paraison
mentioned as examples: the ending of the systematic policy of recruiting
sugar cane cutters, the extreme scarcity of the cases of the use of child
labour from Haiti, the handing-over of individual work contracts to the
workers, the effort to reduce abuses at the cane weighing stations, and
President Hipolito Mejia's recent publicising of the fight against the
poverty in the bateys.
According to Paraison, Haitian workers are no longer confined exclusively to
the bateys, and are currently found in other sectors such as agriculture and
construction, thus making an enormous contribution to the Dominican economy.
He pointed out that "In fact, rather than constituting a burden for the
Dominican Republic as is often stated, on the contrary, they take part in
the increase in agricultural production and in the development of this
The Haitian civil servant, who spoke in a personal capacity, was the
recipient of the Anti-Slavery International human rights prize in 1994.
Paraison highlighted the political will of the current heads of State on the
island, Hipolito Mejia and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who, in their respective
visions, define relations between the two countries as "a marriage without
divorce" and "the two wings of the same bird".
The migration problem should constitute their No.1 priority for, a total
solution of it is a precondition for the continuation of cooperation in
other domains. Paraison added, "it is necessary, for the sake of public
opinion in the two countries, to take steps to demonstrate our determination
to make progress".
To achieve this goal, he exhorted the two governments to renew their
engagement inter alia:
- To apply in a strict and urgent way the agreements on the methods of
repatriation and recruiting.
- To clamp down on all infringements by immigration agents or soldiers
against people carrying legal travel documents.
- To control the repatriations operations so that they are directed by
immigration agents deployed for this purpose and not by soldiers or police
- To activate investigations and legal proceedings regarding the cases of
Haitian citizens in the DR and Dominicans in Haiti who have died as a result
of military or police violence
- To ensure adequate training of the police agents or soldiers at border
posts the border to guarantee that fire arms are only used when lives are in
Other panelists at the conference included the Dominican academic, Ruben
Silie, and the Executive Director of the State Sugar Council (CEA), Victor
An audience of approximately 200 people included representatives of human
rights organisations, groups working on Haitian issues in DR and
personalities from several countries. Edwidge Danticat, author of several
works, including those concerning the situation of Haitians in the DR
participated in the role of conference moderator.
(original sent by Max Blanchet in French - translated to English by Charles
Arthur for the Haiti Support Group)
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