An Idaho church associated with right-wing causes and politics was accused of child trafficking. Ten Americans associated with Central Valley Baptist of Meridian, Idaho and the New Life Children’s Refuge were caught trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border to the Dominican Republic without the proper authorization.
The BBC reports, “Even before the earthquake, kidnap gangs were estimated to take thousands of children from the slums and streets of the Haitian capital every year.
“But the quake has made the situation even worse. Now there are thousands of new orphans, and thousands more children separated from their families.
“For days rumors swirled of children being picked off the streets and whisked out of the country.”
Some of the 33 children are not even orphans, the BBC reports. One little girl said through tears she had parents and thought she was just going to summer camp.
The Idaho Baptist church is associated with many far-right causes including anti-abortion mobilizations. One of the church’s leaders, Randy Jackson, protested at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, against the Red Cross and Planned Parenthood’s condom distribution. Jackson also traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the 2004 March For Women’s Lives.
The U.S. State Department announced Jan. 26 that both the Haitian and U.S. governments must approve that children are ready to travel.
“The decision to permit the departure of children before the full and final completion of adoptions is a serious matter. Both the Haitian and U.S. governments must confirm that each child is appropriately authorized for travel.
“In the aftermath of a crisis such as the Haiti earthquake, children are especially vulnerable; and there is increased potential for abuse of, and trafficking in, children. The United States remains committed to working with the Government of Haiti to implement safeguards to protect children and their families in Haiti.”
According to a 2002 UNICEF, Haiti has been battling child trafficking, and the United States and Canada are the main receivers of trafficking from the Caribbean. The United Nations Children and Education Fund also estimates 2.5 million children, a majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry. NBC reported that an average predator in the U.S. can make more than $200,000 per year off of one young girl.
The church denies any wrong doing. Central Valley Baptist Pastor Clint Henry told CBS, “I know there has been illegal activity that’s been going on down there. It’s unfortunate that we would be associated with that.”