Jail sentence sought for Tahiti benefit fraud
Suspended jail sentence sought in Tahiti for a man accused of fraud for receiving the French RSA benefit.
A suspended jail sentence has been requested by the prosecution in French Polynesia for a man accused of fraud for receiving the French RSA benefit while staying in Tahiti.
Rene Hoffer has been campaigning for years for the RSA benefit to be given to all the poor in Tahiti because, unlike in France, there is no unemployment benefit.
According to his lawyer says there is a total incoherence at play in the way the authorities have been dealing with his client.
Mr Hoffer says not paying the RSA is a political decision that goes against basic rights.
RENE HOFFER: "When I am in France - I roughly spend six months in France and six months here. So when I am in France it is not a problem. I have my RSA. When I come back to Tahiti - I am now, I am back in Tahiti - and then they say; 'Oh you cannot have the RSA' because of my domicilation. Now they sue me for having lied, but I have not lied. I tell them I am here or I'm in Punaauia at my address. I'm not hiding it, I'm saying it. I based my deputation candidacy in 2012 on this subject: the RSA is a right, no matter who pays it. I don't mind if French Polynesia pays it or if it is Strasbourg that pays it. This is not my concern. My concern is that I have a right - 80,000 people here are in such a situation who have zero and they should be given 60,000 [French Pacific] francs here.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: This RSA benfit is being paid out in other territories outside mainland France. I understand it si available for people living in places like Guadeloupe and Martinique?
RH: Guadeloupe and Martinique are departments and not collectivities - whatever this means this colonies' stuff. But for instance St Martin-Barthelemy is an overseas collectivity which is under the same article of the French constitution - number 74 - as so-called French Polynesia and there there is RSA and not here. So there is not just one incoherence, it's many incoherences along the path. French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna have not been excluded. They are just not part of the system. But there is no text saying the French people of French Polynesia are excluded of the RSA, nobody says this. It would be against human rights, you cannot exclude the French. Because a foreigner in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Martin, Corsica, Alsace and if they meet the criterion, the Poles, everybody, Romanians - you name it - who come to France and comply with the conditions, they have the right to the RSA. Everybody except if you are a colonised French Polynesian with a French passport and European passport of French nationality."
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