Breaking News: US Missionaries Charged With Kidnapping

According to breaking reports on the BBC:

Haiti has charged 10 US missionaries with child abduction and criminal conspiracy for allegedly trying to smuggle children out of the country.

If convicted they face lengthy jail terms, says the BBC’s Paul Adams at the court hearing in Haiti’s quake-hit capital, Port-au-Prince.

When stopped on the border last Friday, they said they were taking the children to a Dominican Republic orphanage.

But it has emerged some of the 33 youngsters had parents who were alive.

‘Kidnappers’

The five men and five women, most of them from Idaho, were due to have a hearing earlier in the week, but that was postponed because of a lack of interpreters.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has labelled the Americans “kidnappers”.

Residents in the village of Callebas told an Associated Press news agency reporter they had handed their children over through a local orphanage worker who said he was acting on the Americans’ behalf.

The worker is said to have promised the families that the missionaries would educate their children in neighbouring Dominican Republic.

A number of parents in the badly-damaged village said they would find it difficult to provide for their children if they came back.

The mission’s leader, Laura Silsby, has said her group had met a Haitian pastor by chance when they arrived last week, and that he had helped them gather the children. She also admitted that they did not have the proper paperwork.

“Our intent was to help only those children that needed us most, that had lost either both their mother and father, or had lost one of their parents and the other had abandoned them,” she said from her jail cell on Wednesday.

Christians Accused of Child Trafficking

At this point many people have heard about the 10 men and women from the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho who are charged with child trafficking. They claim it was a terrible misunderstanding brought about by a desire to get the “orphaned” children some help in the Dominican Republic.

Some of the children claim otherwise. One girl, according to ABC News, cried as she told them that she is not an orphan and she thought she was going to boarding school or summer camp. Other children have told authorities that their parents are alive and even gave addresses.

What had these people been telling these children?

According to the AFP  9T8C9f , the Christian group was trying to take over 30 children with them across the border. They had no adoption documentation for any of the children. The leader of the group, claims that the Haitian government told her she could simply take the children across the border.

“Patricia Vargas, head of an international center caring for the children, said some of the older ones had spoken to aid workers and ”say their parents are alive, and some of them gave us an address and phone numbers”.

Ms Vargas said officials at the Haitian Institute of Social Welfare, which deals with adoptions, had told her that most of the children had families.”

According to another article d8UHS7 Border police “saw a bus with a lot of children. Thirty-three children. When asked about the children’s documents, they had no documents,” Haitian Culture and Communications Minister Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said.

A third article states that along with the 10 US citizens there were two adult Haitians. Even if none of the members of the Christian group spoke Creole or French, the official languages of Haiti, then the two Haitians with them would have been able to find out if indeed the children they were “rescuing” were orphans.

A video here 9irKpC gives further details.

At this point authorities still  do not know where the group got the children from. For the time being, while their families are being located, the children are being looked after at an Austrian-sponsored orphanage.

It is being speculated that the group will be released to the US for trial as the Haitian court system is currently in a state of devastation.

Here is where skepticism in daily life comes in. It is possible that this group just wanted to take the children some place safe and didn’t think things through. The woman in the video said they wanted to “provide a safe and loving home for these kids who have nothing”.

It seems that, according to the group’s “logic”, it was alright to take the children from parents who love them because things are desperately difficult in Haiti right now. If this devastation had taken place somewhere in the US would it still be okay to take children from parents who love them?

Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin identified the Americans as members of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children’s Refuge.

”This is an abduction, not an adoption,” he said.

What do you think? Are these well-meaning people without a clue or are they child traffickers taking advantage of a bad situation?

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