tv HAR Dtalk BBC News April 4, 2022 12:30am-1:01am BST
the main news follows hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. haiti is one of the world's most broken nations, and the internal fractures are tearing the country apart. last summer, the president was assassinated. despite a swirl of rumour, the perpetrators haven't been brought to justice. the current prime minister is under a cloud of suspicion, elections have been shelved, and haitians live in grinding
poverty, gang violence and amid international indifference. my guest is the former foreign minister and briefly acting pm, claude joseph. can haiti be saved? claudejoseph, welcome to hardtalk. thanks for having me. it's a pleasure to have you. it is eight months or so since president moise was brutally gunned down, assassinated in his own home. haiti today is still in chaos as a result of that. why is it still in chaos?
one of the reasons is because the current prime minister, prime minister henry, is still in command, and we do know that, according to national and international investigators, he was involved in the assassination. his implication, i should say, was well established. well, if we look carefully at what has happened since that assassination, we do not know that prime minister henry was involved. he has adamantly denied any involvement. we know that prosecutors have looked at his situation alongside many others, but beyond that, nothing is clear at all. i mean, i think so many things, particularly, at first, he has been obstructing justice.
he fired the chief prosecutor. he fired former minister ofjustice. so, as i said, it's not personally myself that actually implicate him. the haitian national police report clearly says that he spoke with the guy who was... the guy in charge of killing president...or the operation of killing president moise. you and i must be very careful when we discuss this. this is an ongoing investigation. the gentleman that you just referred to, mr badio, who you say was at the centre of this assassination plan, well, he's gone missing. nobody knows where he is, and nobody knows what his attitude is to the charge that you've just laid at his door. someone knows. someone knows, actually. he spoke two times in the morning, july 7th,
with the prime minister. but again, the prime minister, mr henry, says he has no recollection of those conversations. i understand this is perhaps a very bad way to defend himself. correct? well, you're not an investigator yourself, mrjoseph, and it may be that some people looking at this interview will think, "ah, well, there's a guy, there's a politician who is bitter and resentful," because you, when president moise was killed, you were in position as acting prime minister. yes. but within two weeks, you were replaced by the very mr henry that you are now saying is involved in this plot to kill the president. so maybe this is just sour grapes on your part. you wanted to carry on being prime minister, didn't you? oh, no, no, no, not at all. i mean, the issue is not that. the issue is we are fighting to know the truth behind, you know, that assassination, what is really happening.
and we do believe, based on all those evidence, that if we have mr henry, you know, as prime minister, we will never know, the world will never know what really happened. so just because of the suspicions, we're not saying that he is the criminal, but we know that all those evidence and suspicions against him... well, you talk about suspicions. i just look at the record, and nobody right now has been charged with anything in connection with this terrible crime. there are many individuals, dozens of individuals who are currently in detention in haiti as a result of the police investigation. many of them actually are colombian, but none of them have actually been charged. it's unfortunate when there is someone who is obstructing justice. this is a result that you're going to have when a government official at this high level is obstructing justice. so you're going to see this and it's unfortunate, and that's why i'm trying to...
it's very unfortunate for haiti that government is, in essence, in limbo. we have mr henry there in power as prime minister, also in essence acting as de facto president, but with elections shelved and we don't know for how long. you seem to believe that the only way out of this is to get the united nations involved. you recently wrote a letter to the un high commissioner, michelle bachelet, asking for a un—backed investigation into the killing of president moise. yes. what on earth would the use of that be? yes, you know, we have things like that happen before. in 2005, after the assassination of the lebanese prime minister, we had a special tribunal by the un to investigate that crime. so when we have obstruction ofjustice in haiti, the investigation is clearly undermined. therefore, if we can have
allies and partners helping haiti to know what happened, that will be an interesting thing. and that's why i think... i, of course, want the un and other international organisations asking them to help. do you really think, given haiti's troubled history with the united nations, with international organisations and with particular governments, including the french and united states governments in the past, do you think haiti is really going to be rescued from its mess right now by a un investigation into this? and this is one of the reasons i'm asking why are they remaining so indifferent toward haiti and particularly after the assassination of our president? i mean, the one question that many people ask, does the life of a black president matter? because we do not understand that, you know, such indifference in how someone as prime minister is, i mean,
with those suspicions against him and then they still back him up. so people are very resentful and they are trying to get a clear grasp of what is going on. earlier, i referred to political chaos in haiti. now, here you are with me in london, speaking as former foreign minister and former acting prime minister of haiti. when you go back to port—au—prince right now and you make these allegations just as you've made them to me about your country's current prime minister, do you feel safe in your country? i should say what is important for me is to find justice and, i mean, regardless of the price i may pay for that, because we need the truth. we need to know the truth. we need to... but we are talking in the context of a recently assassinated president.
as i understand it, your own security detail, as a recently senior member of the government, your security detail has been withdrawn. is that true? as a former prime minister, i'm legally entitled to some privileges. but i must say that fighting for a better haiti is the most rewarding and important privilege of my life, so i'll still...fighting to find. . . help finding those criminals that actually killed the president. and that's what matters to me. have you been questioned? i mean, i was invited by thejudge. yes, i was invited by thejudge. and did thejudge ask you if you had involvement in the murder? because in the early days after the assassination of president moise, there were media outlets in colombia that pointed a finger at you. correct. but there is a credible journalist, and it was not credible journalism, but there was a credible journalist in the united states
that actually belied this. and everyone knows that president moise was killed because of what he was pursuing in terms of socialjustice. and everyone knows that he was fighting against oligarchs, an elite few taking hostages, millions of haitians living with less than a dollar a day. well, you say everyone knows that. what some people seem to say in haiti is that president moise had in a sense turned a blind eye to the realities of gang violence in your country, and that in some ways it seems he had offered tacit protection to one of the most dangerous alleged gang leaders in your country, a man who goes by the nickname barbecue. listen... is that true? what i can tell you is that since he took office
as president, he was victim of what they call character assassination, first, and then doing four years, and then they kill him physically. so i'm aware of those things, but i do know that that was part of the whole character assassination. but just answer the specific question. we have this gentleman, jimmy cherizier... there was no link whatsoever. ..known as barbecue. now, the man is known... he says he's not a gang leader. he leads a, quote unquote, armed group. it's called the g9 family. he has been accused of involvement in killings, kidnappings. he denies those specific allegations. mm—hm. but there is an accusation that president moise, at the time you were serving in government as foreign minister, was actively supporting, allowing the activities of this man barbecue, cherizier.
i can tell you it's not true. i know that he used to march against presidentjovenel moise. so i'm telling you that it's part of the whole character assassination. and they succeeded. because what they did first is to, you know, assassinate his character, so to make it vulnerable, and then physically kill him. but... so i should say they succeeded. you keep talking of character assassination. i look at the record. again, when you were in government as foreign minister, then briefly acting prime minister under president moise, according to a harvard law school report, killing with impunity by violent gangs in your country increased and your government, your government failed to hold the perpetrators to account. now, why is that? so, what i can tell you is that presidentjovenel moise and his government tried their utmost to actually fight the gangs
in all those areas. but they... what you need to understand is that those gangs has political ramifications. oh, i understand that. yeah, they do... they do have political ramification. whenever someone wants to bargain or get something from jovenel moise, you see kidnappings everywhere. so we know that and we denounce that. when i was, for instance, minister of foreign affairs, i denounced the political ramifications with gangs, and gangs are everywhere, with politicians, with oligarchs. they use them as bargaining chips. so that's exactly what happened in our case. do you think it is fair to describe haiti today, and indeed for many years previous, as a broken, failed state? iwould... i would say that this is a country that has a history of...
where foreign countries, i should say, manipulated and actually got a lot from us and a sense that after we got our independence, we had to pay a lot of monies to actually get our independence. i mean, you literally had to pay a debt for more than 100 years to france. more than 100 years. so we should agree that this has incidence and impact. and you had various interferences, military and otherwise, from the united states, alongside the debt you were forced to pay to france. i think people do understand that haiti suffered a great dealfrom its colonial experience and then from its... the fact that it was neighbouring to the united states, and washington took a great interest at times in haiti's politics. i get all of that. but are you therefore saying
that the haitian people, but more particularly the haitian elite, of which you are a part, bear no responsibility for where haiti is today? i would say that the oligarchs that has taken hostage millions of people living with less than $2 a day, i would say that, yes, an elite few that has been really acting against the majority — yes, they are a part of where haiti is now. you are a part of that elite. where do you think the haitian elite has gone wrong? i mean, the haitian elite, i mean, talking about the oligarchs, when you say... when you say, "i'm talking about the oligarchs," you distance yourself from this entire context, but you are part of the context. you were fortunate enough, while most of your countrymen and women do not get an education, do not have running water in their homes, you come from the kind of family who could afford to send you to a private university in the united states. you are the definition of haitian elite.
when we're talking about the haitian elite in this case, we're talking about those who really... ..those who really possess the country's wealth, the less than i% that actually earn more than 80% of haiti's income and wealth. so this is what we are talking about. so myself, as a young, if you will, academic and politician, i'm not a part of this. but what i'm trying to do today is to actually denounce this situation where an elite few takes hostage a whole population. so this is exactly whatjovenel moise was denouncing. jovenel moise was not a politician. he was a family man from the northern part of the country. and when the then—outgoing president martelly hand—picked him, they thought that he could be a puppet. someone with the right
background and history, someone who would nod yes to everything that they ask him. but they didn't realise that he can also carry out his agenda that he presented to the people. the agenda to have electricity, power, basic services on the 27,250 square kilometres. everywhere in the country. and this is whatjovenel moise was fighting for. yeah, but sadly, jovenel moise is dead, and you and other seniorfigures in politics in haiti today need to figure out where to go from here. of course. you've already told me what you think of current prime minister ariel henry. what do you think needs to happen now? mr henry has ensured that elections are not going to happen any time soon. there's a powerful opposition group, i think they're called the montana accord group,
in your country, who are now saying that the only way out of this is for the united states to very explicitly withdraw all support from prime minister henry and to back an alternative leaderfor haiti. and i think they are saying it should be fritz alphonsejean. now, are you behind that initiative? no, i'm not behind that initiative. what i can tell you, we definitely need a political agreement among all actors, but political agreement to actually hold elections, because we need to give people voice. i mean, i think it's really condescending when we think that the people cannot choose. and this is part... this is, if you will, the elite also, they sometimes think... but correct me if i'm wrong — you've never been elected in your life to a position of... oh, no, no, no, no, no. that's as clear. i was minister of foreign affairs... you got to be acting prime minister. you were never elected to anything.
no, no, no. a prime minister is not elected. a minister is not elected. that's the point i'm making. you're saying, "oh, the only way out of this is haitian democracy. " but haitian democracy is so deeply flawed, so troubled, that i'm wondering whether in the short run, realistically, democracy can be the way out of this. i mean, why not? because we should not look at the people condescendingly, because democracy, one of the basic principle is elections so each one can say what they want actually for the country. so you specifically are not backing fritz alphonse jean, who is some people's choice to be an alternative leader. are you putting yourself up now as the potential leader of the opposition? what i can tell you is that i am forjustice. my priority is helping, you know, finding the truth. but i'm also for a political accord. i'm also for elections. but the political agreement should include everyone. it cannot be a small group or an elite few. but we need everyone
on the table to actually judge, not one person. earlier in this interview, you said that there is a sense of neglect in haiti, neglect by the outside world, and you connected that directly to race and potentially to, i guess, to racism. when you look at the united states today, atjoe biden and his attitude to haiti, do you see a man who wants to use america's power in a positive way to help your country? or do you see an american leader who is doing everything to stop haitians entering the united states? i believe that our problem is haitians should be actually take care of their own problem. yes, we love, you know, we appreciate partnership, we appreciate generosity. but we can't rely on other nations, on other countries, allies, if you will, to resolve our issues.
so we believe that the haitian problem should find haitian solution. but i asked you that question because the figures are quite astounding. the biden administration is close now to a figure of repatriating, forcing haitians out of america or out of waters close to america when immigrants try to reach by boat, he's repatriated more haitians than the last three us presidents combined. i just wonder what you think is motivating biden. this is unfortunate. we, we, we think that... in this current situation, we want more generosity. it should not be in discourse. it should be will and reality. and i think this is far from what is being said in this administration. you also speak to me here in london at a time
when the eyes of the world are very much trained on ukraine, and countries across the world, including the united states, as saying that they will welcome with open arms tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of ukrainian refugees. given what i've just outlined is the stance in the united states toward haitian migrants, many of whom want to seek political asylum in the united states, what do you think drives the different responses from the international community to ukrainians and then to haitians? i think it's double—standard politics. that's clear. and we cannot hide the fact that race may be a factor. we cannot hide that. and perhaps also it's indifference. but i do also believe that race is a factor. and i think those things can be repaired. i think they can change the paradigm, you know, to better treatment for
haitians. haitians are good people. they are hard workers. everywhere they go. in the united states, part of the united states rely on haitians. so we need to be treated as humans. we need to be treated fairly. a final thought. last year, you had another earthquake, just, what, 11 years after a disastrous earthquake in 2010. you had a president assassinated. you have spiralling gang violence. you have a population that is mired in poverty. how close to despair are you about the state of your country? imean, what... i'm telling you that this situation is very hard. but haitians... myself, i'm very optimistic because in a moment like this, we come together, as we did when the president was assassinated. i was prime minister. the country need a voice, need someone who can tell them, "let's make it through."
and we did. and i think in this moment like this, in a situation like this, we always, haitians come together and make the world proud that we can change the situation. it sounds like you think the person haitians need right now is you. i think haitians need a good leader. claudejoseph, we have to leave it there. thank you very much indeed forjoining me on hardtalk. i appreciate it. hello, there.
a much milder start to the week. we have a warm set bringing higher temperatures and a lot of cloud, but we starts lost free in the morning, temperatures from six in the south—east of england to a mild 10 celsius in scotland and northern ireland. still some rain moving south across england and wales, which will move away leaving damp drizzly weather for western hills and coasts, and a lot of cloud. some rain in northern ireland and western scotland. eastern scotland a bit drier and
brighter. 0n the whole, cloudy skies on monday, greedy but mild, temperatures 12—111. for many parts of the country on tuesday, a colder air mass, and cold across northern scotland. we have a zone of thick cloud and rain, fora we have a zone of thick cloud and rain, for a while in northern ireland and northern england, most of the wet weather is in scotland. the rain marches north across scotland, into the colder air, some snow in highland and grampian. —— breezy but mild. during the day, with the wintry weather, it will feel cold. the central belt southwards, much milder. with sunshine across
england and wales, temperatures up england and wales, temperatures up to 15 again. wednesday, no pressure on the scene, sliding the weather fronts eastwards. just north of that, colder air. in the far north of scotland, sleet and snow. most of scotland with rain. northern ireland, england and wales with blustery showers. and some sunshine. temperatures not
welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines. growing alarm about alleged russian war crimes in ukraine — the un calls for an independent investigation. it is hard to understand human behaviour like this but what makes it really tragic is that there are so many accounts of it happening where russian soldiers have been and are now in ukraine. russia denies causing civilian deaths — but in one town after another — there are testimonies about indiscriminate killing:
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