5 February 2010

Hypocrisy Haitian style

Ten US Christian missionaries have been charged with child abduction and conspiracy after they were caught allegedly trying to smuggle 33 children out of Haiti into the Dominican Republic. They have denied any ill-intent, saying they only wanted to help those children left orphaned or abandoned by last months devastating earthquake.

Based on reports from other Non Government Organizations, rightly or wrongly I tend to believe them - a case of trying to cut through the red tape that has hampered so much of the aid operation in Haiti, and get the kids to safety.

Haiti's Justice Minister Paul Denis said: "It is Haitian law that has been violated. It is up to the Haitian authorities to hear and judge the case. I don’t see any reason why they should be tried in the United States."

Jean-Max Bellerive, Prime Minister of one of the world's most corrupt countries said, the case is becoming "a distraction" for Haitians with people "talking more now about 10 people than about one million people suffering on the streets".

I find it cruelly ironic that any politician in Haiti should take a high and mighty stand about ten missionaries making a ham fisted job of trying to rescue children. After all, rescuing children or preventing their abduction and trafficking has never been high on the list of priorities for well heeled politicians in poverty stricken Haiti.

Back in November 2005 I reported that the UN and Organization of American States (OAS) claimed that approximately 30,000 Haitian children are illegally smuggled into the Dominican Republic every year. Once there, they are forced to work as child prostitutes or be forced into other degrading occupations.

The article went on to say that children do not fare much better in Haiti itself, where many are recruited as gang members, tortured, kidnapped, sexually and physically abused, abandoned and traded.

In June 2008 I posted a UN report under the heading, "Haiti's shame - kidnapping and lynching of children". The article referred to the increase in the kidnapping and torture of children, in particular the murder of a 16-year-old hostage and the lynching and rape of other hostages, including infants.

What measures did the government take to prevent the trafficking, abduction and rape of children? Virtually nothing. They sat on their hands in their mansions and palaces and for whatever reason, let it happen.

Government officials in Haiti are quick to ask for aid, happy to accept the bribes of U.S. businessmen but not so keen on helping the country's most vulnerable - the children. That is left to those who rush to Haiti every time the country is hit by a disaster. People such as the American missionaries now languishing in a Haitian hell-hole.

Maybe we are seeing a change of heart? Perhaps the arrest of the missionaries signals the beginning of a crack down on child trafficking and sexual exploitation. Perhaps there is hope that the 30,000 children who were trafficked each year will be found and returned to their families? Yeah right.

Child trafficking is a profitable business in Haiti - perhaps that's why the Americans were arrested - officials didn't like the unauthorized export of lucrative merchandise.

Perhaps the Haitian Establishment - those who have done so much for themselves and so little for their people, should borrow one of the missionaries Bibles and look up the bit that says -

"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone".

Wherever you may be - be safe

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