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article imageBaptists accused of kidnapping will know of charges Thursday

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 3, 2010 in World
A Haitian magistrate will decide by Thursday whether or not the 10 Americans accused of human trafficking will face charges. The 10 are from the New Life Children's Refuge, and claim they were in Haiti to rescue orphans.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - The ten Baptists accused of kidnapping the Haitian children have been questioned by a Haitian judge. Prosecutor Mazarre Fortil told press late Wednesday that a decision on whether or not the group will face criminal charges will be delivered Thursday. The Americans were questioned by the unnamed judge in two separate groups, one male and one female, and neither group had a lawyer for the inquiry. Reverend Jean Sainvil, a Haitian pastor of unknown denomination who is said to have accompanied the group was also questioned. Speaking to the media Wednesday, Sainvil defended the Baptist group saying "When we think orphanage, it's someone without a mother and father. In Haiti, it's not the case. These parents are homeless and hopeless. Everybody agreed that they knew where the children were going. The parents were told, and we confirmed they would be allowed to see the children and even take them back if need be."
SOS Children's Village representative, the organization caring for the 33 children until they can be reunited with their families, said that aside from the youngest children, all the children have said they have parents. A two month old baby was among the group of children.
The Baptist group did not have any documentation for the 33 children they had attempted to take over the border to the Dominican Republic. Some parents admit they gave their children to the Baptist group, saying it was to give the children a better life. A few other parents, however, have said they did not consent to having their children adopted by other families. The 33 children came from Callebas, a village in the mountains of Haiti.
The leader of the Baptist group, Laura Silsby, is alleged to have told a local Haitian who worked in an orphanage that she was looking for homeless children. The parents say they trusted Silsby initially, but now say they are suspicious after learning the Baptists planned to find adoptive homes for the children. Members of the village complained that Haitian authorities have not come to them for information.
Some Haitians are becoming increasingly upset that religious groups are coming to ostensibly help Haitians, but are using the opportunity to convert Haitians, as well as scoop up the thousands of apparently orphaned children.
The desperation of Haitian parents is increasing as time goes on and little aid gets through. Wednesday saw hundreds of Haitians protesting the lack of food. Lack of co-ordination combined with the rubble left from the earthquakes have been identified as contributors to the snarl of aid. Bill Clinton has been asked to step in to hand coordination of aid.
More about Baptists, Haitian orphans, Human trafficking, Criminal charges
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