Sunday, January 31, 2010

News Bureaus Report on Children Taken to Dominican Republic

CNN and other news bureaus have reported that 10 American and Dominican citizens were arrested by the Haitian authorities while transporting 33 children into the Dominican Republic. The article reports that a U.S. government official stated that there are no indications trafficking was involved. According to CNN, the U.S. official also stated that it appears the orphanage was damaged and the children were being moved to their facility in the Dominican Republic but failed to obtain exit visas from Haiti. On January 24, the Haitian government instituted a policy of requiring government approval for children leaving Haiti.

In a BBC report, the AFO new agency quoted Haitian Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin saying “This is an abduction, not an adoption.”

Other news bureaus, such as KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho, reported the border crossing as an illicit adoption scheme, despite the statements of the Haitian Social Affairs Minister and U.S. government officials.

The announcement by the Haitian government that government approval must be given for any child leaving Haiti has been reported widely, including by Joint Council. Any violation of this requirement, regardless of the motivation, must be investigated and if appropriate, vigorously prosecuted. Failing to take aggressive action against individuals involved in illegal activity only compromises children’s rights and adds to the trauma experienced through institutionalization and compounded by the earthquake.

Allegations in the media that this is somehow an “illicit adoption scheme”, despite the reported statement of the Haitian Social Affairs Minister and U.S. government officials noted above, do little to advance the protection of children. Without substantiation, the association of illegal border crossing with adoption, damages the valued institution of intercountry adoption and may contribute to the elimination of a child’s right to a family.

Joint Council again calls on all who provide services to children, to adhere to the requirements of the Haitian government. While the situation in Haiti continues to be a crisis for children, services must be provided in Haiti unless prior approval for travel is obtained from the Haitian government.

The motives, as reported in the media, highlights both the need to know and comply with Haitian requirements and the need to immediately provide safe shelter, nutrition, water and medical care to children in need.

-Joint Council

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