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.


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.