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Haiti Nabs Idahoans For Child Trafficking

From an outraged Associated Press:

Laura Silsby, head of Idaho-based charity called New Life Children’s Refuge sits at a police station in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti detains Americans taking kids across border

By Frank Bajak, Associated Press Writer

January 31, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Ten U.S. Baptists were being held in the Haitian capital Sunday after trying to take 33 children out of Haiti at a time of growing fears over possible child trafficking.

The church members, most from Idaho, said they were trying to rescue abandoned and traumatized children. But officials said they lacked the proper documents when they were arrested Friday night in a bus along with earthquake survivors aged from 2 months to 12 years.

The group said its "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission" was an effort to help abandoned children by taking them to an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic.

"In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing," the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, told The Associated Press at the judicial police headquarters in the capital, where the Americans were being held pending a Monday hearing before a judge. No charges had been filed

The Baptist group planned to scoop up 100 kids and take them by bus to a 45-room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, that they were converting into an orphanage, Silsby told the AP.

Whether they realized it or not, these Americans — the first known to be taken into custody since the Jan. 12 quake — put themselves in the middle of a firestorm in Haiti, where government leaders have suspended adoptions amid fears that parentless or lost children are more vulnerable than ever to child trafficking

While many legitimate adoption agencies and orphanages operate in Haiti, often run by religious groups, the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration reported in 2007 that bogus adoption agencies in Haiti were offering children to rich Haitians and foreigners in return for processing fees reaching US$10,000.

Silsby said her group, including members from Texas and Kansas, paid no money for the children, whom she said they obtained from a Haitian pastor named Jean Sanbil of the Sharing Jesus Ministries.

Silsby, 40, of Boise, Idaho, was asked if she didn’t consider it naive to cross the border without adoption papers at a time when Haitians are so concerned about child trafficking. "By no means are we any part of that. That’s exactly what we are trying to combat," she said.

She said she hadn’t been following news reports while in Haiti.

Social Affairs Minister Yves Cristallin told the AP that the Americans were suspected of taking part in an illegal adoption scheme.

Some members of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, wept on Sunday as Pastor Clint Henry reported the team had been detained and asked for prayers.

"They have been arrested. They’ve been charged with child trafficking," he told the congregation. "You need to understand that obviously those are serious charges, but they’re in a nation where this has been a practice, a wicked and evil practice." …

U.S. diplomats met with the detained Americans and gave them bug spray and field rations, according to Sean Lankford of Meridian, Idaho, whose wife and 18-year-old daughter were being held.

"There are allegations of child trafficking and that really couldn’t be farther from the truth," Lankford said. The children "were going to get the medical attention they needed. They were going to get the clothes and the food and the love they need to be healthy and to start recovering from the tragedy that just happened."

Silsby said they had documents from the Dominican government, but did not seek any paperwork from the Haitian authorities.

She said the children were brought to the Haitian pastor by distant relatives and only those with no close family would be put up for adoption.

The 10 Americans include members of Central Valley Baptist and the East Side Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho. Friends and relatives have been in touch with them through text messages and phone calls, Lankford said.

The group had described its plans on a Web site where it asked for tax-deductible contributions to help it "gather" 100 orphans and bus them to Cabarete before building a more permanent orphanage in the Dominican town of Magante…

What a laugh.

We suspect that Baptists from Idaho are the least likely child traffickers.

Certainly far less likely than the UN.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, January 31st, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Haiti Nabs Idahoans For Child Trafficking”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    Never believe anything until it’s been Officially Denied

  2. jobeth says:

    This kind of thing hurts my heart on many levels.

    First for the kids obviously.

    Second, the naivete of this Baptist group. Now they and fellow churches trying to help may be painted with this same evil brush.

    As a Baptist myself, we have to watch EVERY thing we do. As Christians we must dot every i and cross every tee in order to guard against people who will accuse us of wrong doing. They should have done their homework and paperwork. However, you have to wonder just where they would get that Haitian paperwork. So I guess it would be preferable to allow these kids to starve to death. For that you need no Haitian paperwork…they just bury people in mass graves.

    There are those who would love nothing better than to paint them as child traffickers. I expect if this Baptist group greased the hands of certain Haitian authorities, we would have never heard a word about any of this.

    But people who operate honestly don’t expect others will not. As I said, very naive.
    This is a country that runs on that type of culture.

    Having said that, there is a real danger of people using religion to cover for a child trafficking gang. So I can see why they would detain them and take the time to allow the group to prove themselves who they say that are. But why accuse them of such a crime? Horrible. Do they have any indicators other than the kids were in that groups custody?

    I don’t know the details of course, but I am thinking we have a group of people who want to do the right thing and didn’t understand the underbelly of the culture of the people around them.

    Again, I don’t know the details, but even the kids who had gone through all the paper work for American adoptions were held up. The press said it was on the American side if I remember correctly….Ironically however, we allow any number of people to cross our southern border for whatever they want and whenever they want…then we have those fighting to give them drivers licenses!

    But not those babies already due to come here.

    As far as this last group is concerned, I have to ask the question though. Is it fear of child trafficking or certain individuals not getting their “fair” $ cut to allow them to go though?

    As my grandson would say “This is messed up”.

    Katrina on steroids.

  3. Confucius says:

    If this article is true, then these Baptists are guilty of kidnapping. I don’t believe their alibi that they thought papers from the Dominican Republic were enough for them to enter Haiti and take the children.

    It’s like me going into Best Buy and stealing a plasma TV because a priest in England said I could.

    While I’m on the subject, stupidity and feelings are not good alibis either.

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