Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies casting light on a dark history...

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan? (part 2)

Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Gaza as militants target Israeli cities

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • Froome crashes out of Tour de France

    Read more

  • South Sudan independence heroes ‘have lost their way’

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

  • Dozens of blindfolded bodies found south of Baghdad

    Read more

Americas

Authorities question suspected US child traffickers

©

Video by Shirli SITBON

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-02

A prosecutor in Port-au-Prince has questioned the 10 US nationals detained on Friday for trying to take a busload of Haitian children across the Dominican Republic border without proper documentation, according to officials.

REUTERS - Haitian authorities questioned a group of 10 American missionaries on Monday who are accused of illegally trying to take children out of the quake-shattered Caribbean country.

A prosecutor met with the Americans at police headquarters in Port-au-Prince, where they have been held since they were arrested late on Friday trying to cross into the Dominican Republic with a busload of 33 children they said were orphaned by the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
 
The Baptist missionaries deny Haitian charges they were engaged in child trafficking and insist they were only trying to help vulnerable orphans left destitute by the quake.

The case could be diplomatically sensitive at a time when the United States is spearheading a huge relief effort to help hundreds of thousands of Haitian quake victims, and as U.S. aid groups pour millions of dollars of donations into Haiti.

As part of the aid operation, the U.S. military on Monday resumed medical evacuation flights of critically injured earthquake victims to the United States, ending a five-day suspension caused by a dispute over where to treat patients and who would pay for their care.

Also on Monday, a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, and two other ships were leaving Haiti after completing their relief missions. Several other U.S. warships remained offshore to support the operation.

Haitian authorities have expressed fears the chaos and loss caused by the earthquake that killed up to 200,000 people could allow child traffickers to prey on vulnerable children.

Government officials said the detained Americans had no documents proving the children were orphans or giving them permission to take them out of the country.

“We have information about people trying to steal kids to take them out of the country, which is the reason why the government has decided to reinforce security,” Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Lassegue said of the arrests.

She added that authorities were reviewing the evidence against the group of five men and five women.

Lassegue said it was possible the Americans could be sent home for trial because of the damage inflicted on the Haitian judicial system by the quake.

“We tell all Americans all over the world 24 hours a day that you are subject to the laws of the country where you find yourself,” the U.S. consul general in Haiti, Donald Moore, told reporters on Monday.

Moore said the missionaries were “being processed according to the Haitian penal system.” He had no comment on whether Haiti had been in contact with the U.S. government about moving the case to the United States.

‘GOD’S PURPOSE’

Evidence emerged that many of the 33 children intercepted with the missionaries were not orphans.

Haiti’s police said some of them were handed over voluntarily by their parents. A woman at police headquarters who said she was the mother of five of the children said a local pastor acting as an intermediary told her they would have a better life if they went with the missionaries.

The Americans, who admit they had no documents, approvals or passports for the Haitian infants, insist they just wanted to help them by taking them over the border to an orphanage they were establishing in the Dominican Republic.

« They really didn’t have any paperwork ... I did not understand that that would really be required, » the leader of the group, Laura Silsby, told CNN. The children included a baby and other youngsters up to age 12.

« God is the one who called us to come here and we just really believed that this was his purpose, » said Carla Thompson, another member of the group, which called itself the New Life Children’s Refuge.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who has cited reports of child trafficking and even human organ trafficking since the quake, has called the arrested Americans « kidnappers. » But he has acknowledged the possibility they were misguided but acting in good faith to help the children.

The case of the Americans resembles that of a group of French charity workers who were detained in Chad in 2007 and accused of trying to fly 103 children out of the African country without authorization.

The six French members of the Zoe’s Ark group said the children were « war orphans » from Sudan’s Darfur, but U.N.  officials said many were Chadian and were not orphans.

Chad initially sentenced the six to hard labor terms, but they were subsequently repatriated to France and released after a pardon granted by the Chadian president.
 

Date created : 2010-02-01

  • HAITI

    Children taken by US church group 'have families'

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)