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.

Advertisements

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?

***UPDATE*** index_html

Pat Robertson Persists

This morning Pat Robertson continued to insist that the reason for Haiti’s troubles is the supposed pact with the Devil that we discussed yesterday. He claims here http://bit.ly/5XeL7L that since the Dominican Republic is prosperous that this supposed “pact” MUST be the reason that Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the world.

Obviously Mr. Robertson’s research team failed to mention to him that, although there are resorts, the Dominican Republic is still a third world country. There is also a difference ing governmental styles. Haiti is a socialist nation run by a dictator. The Dominican Republic stopped being a dictatorship in 1961.

Because of the governmental style, Reagan levied heavy import tariffs against Haiti. That also contributed to the impoverished state of the country. Add to that the weather-related issues and the drug issues and it’s no wonder Haiti has problems.

And yet, Robertson continues to attribute these troubles to a being that no one has been able to prove even exists. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence because a story cannot be tested repeatedly to get the same results. An anecdote is the result of human observation. Personal biases color those observations. When someone like Pat Robertson observes the world, he sees demons and the Devil as the reason for worldly woes. A scientific, skeptical approach shows us that weather and politics are largely contributing factors.

Not the Boogeyman.

Pat Robertsons on Haiti

This morning on the Christian Broadcast Network Pat Robertson made a claim about the reason Haiti has had so many troubles. He states it is because they made a deal with the Devil in the 19th century for their freedom from France.

It’s times like this when it is very hard not to be a cynic. A cynic would have followed that claim up with something like “WTF Pat? Are you stupid?? What kind of crack are you smokin’??”

Haiti should be very proud of its history. In 1791, their ancestors started the only successful slave revolt in human history. It was the first black-run country. They have a rich heritage that deserves to be celebrated. Their revolution is considered a defining moment in African history in the New World.

Pat Robertson isn’t necessarily full of crap though. At least not from certain perspectives. According to the Wikipedia entry on the Haitian revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution), “Historians traditionally identify the catalyst to revolution as a particular Vodou ceremony in August 1791 performed at Bois Caïman by Dutty Boukman, a priest.”.”

At one point in my life I was a Fundamentalist Christian so I understand the “logic” behind Pat Robertson’s claim. From his perspective Vodou is devil worship. The priest, Dutty Boukman, called on demons and the Devil, by fundamentalist reasoning, to free his country. When an entire country is given over into the hands of the Devil, no good can ever come of it.

This is, of course, no longer my perspective. This is an observation and explanation on Robertson’s reasoning. It in no way is meant to support his argument by Appeal To Widespread Belief.

This logical fallacy states that because something is widely believed, that makes it factual evidence. This reasoning is fallacious. We used to believe the world was flat. We know better now because evidence has shown otherwise. A belief is not necessarily factual. In this case, there is no scientific, testable evidence of a Devil. There is no scientific, testable evidence that Vodou has been effective.

Haiti has simply had to deal with unfortunate circumstances.  The recent earthquake is one more instance in a string of natural occurrences. There is nothing paranormal about it. This country has simply been victim to a host of natural disasters ranging from flooding and hurricanes to disease and drug trafficking. These, along with a public that lacks education, are the things that keep Haiti impoverished.

I would urge you to go to redcross.com and contribute to the Haitian relief effort if you haven’t already.