What Will Happen to the Returned Haitian Refugees?

I was disappointed to read the position taken in the editorial "Helping the Haitians," Feb. 7. The author's argument seems to be that if we don't send the Haitians back even more might exit their country.

The right question isn't how many are fleeing, but rather: Is it reasonable to return them to the conditions from which they are fleeing?

The author's answer to this is "yes." But based on what? There is an illegitimate government in power that overthrew a democratically elected government by force. The people being returned, in the main, voted for Aristide. Upon return these people are questioned and finger printed. A dossier is opened on them which the government has access to. How safe are these people?

There is no systematic human-rights monitoring of what happens to these people once they are back in Haiti. We cannot know whether they are in fact harmed or not. We do know, however, that there are continuing reports of serious human rights abuses and violence by security forces. What if 1 in 10 or or 1 in 20 people are killed or brutalized after they return? Is that an acceptable risk?The author picked the wrong time and the wrong exodus of people to get tough about. Dennis Gallagher, Washington Executive Director, Refugee Policy Group

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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