Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Update on the accused child traffickers in Haiti

Here is an update on the group of people who stand accused of smuggling children out of Haiti. There are plans in the works to send the eight people back into the United States to be tried here. Haiti is unable to do the trial because their justice building was destroyed by the recent earthquake with many judges and officials killed inside.

Yesterday, Haiti's Prime Minister Max Bellerive said that the group knew what they were doing was wrong.

From this Associated Press story that we found at the Detroit News, writers Paisley Dodds and Frank Bajak give us the latest.

Haiti's communications minister, Marie-Laurence Jocelin Lassegue, said Haitian and U.S. officials were discussing the idea of trying the Baptists in the United States because Haiti's court system was crippled in the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, which destroyed the justice ministry building and killed many government officials.

Since their arrest Friday near the Dominican border, the church group has been held inside dingy concrete rooms in the same judicial police headquarters building where ministers give disaster response briefings. They have not yet been charged.

A lawyer representing them alleged Monday that they were being treated poorly and that one of them, a diabetic, fainted and was hospitalized. Attorney Jorge Puello, in the Dominican Republic, said they weren't being given adequate medical care and food.

While the U.S. Baptists said they were only trying to rescue abandoned children from the disaster zone, investigators were trying to determine how the Americans got the children, and whether any of the traffickers that have plagued the impoverished country were involved.

Aid workers who interviewed the children said some have surviving parents, and that some were desperate to be reunited with their families.

The Baptists' "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission" was described as an effort to save abandoned, traumatized children. Their plan was to scoop up 100 kids and take them by bus to a 45-room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic. The 33 kids ranged in age from 2 months to 12 years.

They were stopped at the border for not having proper paperwork and taken back to Port-au-Prince, where the children were taken to a temporary children's home.

From The Detroit News:

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