PORT-AU-PRINCE - A top Haitian court reopened its doors for the first time in more than five years Tuesday, after getting help from Taiwan reconstructing the building, shattered in a devastating earthquake.
Two years after the first stone was laid for the new Court of Cassation, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou inaugurated the building while hailing his country's ties with Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.
"We are the best friends in the world and I guarantee you that we will remain the best friends in the world," Ma said alongside his Haitian counterpart Michel Martelly.
"We will be by your side to rebuild together, so that Haitians can return home as quickly as possible." The January 2010 earthquake ravaged Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and injuring 300,000 others.
A million and a half Haitians lost their homes in the catastrophe that also reduced to rubble dozens of public buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince.
Next to the still unfinished construction of the Interior Ministry and across from the site of the presidential palace, the court was rebuilt, on schedule, by a Taiwanese company.
Taiwan picked up the entire tab for the US$15.8 million (S$21.54 million) project.
Standing before the building framed by two lion statues and neoclassical columns, the Haitian leader stressed the importance of international aid to rebuild public institutions.
"Even with the strongest will in the world, the Haitian government and people will never succeed on their own," Martelly said.
"But with international cooperation as sustained and real as that offered by Taiwan, and the undeterred determination of my administration, we will surely advance in rebuilding the country." Thanking Taiwan for its financial and technical aid, court president Jules Cantave insisted that "a health and impartial justice system is not summed up by the existence of an elegant building." International and national groups advocating for human rights regularly criticize the corruption-plagued Haitian justice system.
But Martelly said the new structure, modern, earthquake-proof and outfitted improved security features, shows the advance of the rule of law in Haiti.