The El Salvadoran government is conducting an investigation to determine whether Jorge Puello, a lawyer for 10 Americans accused of attempted kidnapping in Haiti, is connected to a trafficking and prostitution ring. The Haitian judge presiding over the criminal case has also initiated an investigation into the matter.
The 10 Americans, who are members of an Idaho Baptist sect, say they only intended to "rescue" the children from the earthquake-ravished country, and several news articles have portrayed the group in sympathetic terms. Dissenting Justice, however, has argued that this type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and goes against the legal standards for treating children in every civilized country. The earthquake and poverty in Haiti should not invalidate established legal norms that protect children from exploitation. Indeed, poor children are among the most vulnerable for exploitation and abuse.
This Is Not A "Politically Charged" Case
In its latest coverage of the case, the New York Times reports that the prosecution of the Americans is "politically charged." The article, however, does not offer any evidence to support this claim. An earlier New York Times article similarly described the case as being "fraught with diplomatic and political land mines."
Perhaps the New York Times believes that it is inherently a matter of politics for an impoverished nation to prosecute a clear case involving crimes against innocent children if the defendants are Americans. I disagree. Also, the State Department has rebuffed a request by the group to negotiate a release.
The United States prosecutes foreign nationals routinely, without the major media, including the New York Times, describing the cases as politically charged. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the infamous "underwear bomber," is a religious foreign national subject to prosecution in the United States for trying to harm innocent Americans. Most media would not consider his prosecution "politically charged." It is unclear what distinguishes these two cases in that regard.
For more on the story of the 10 Americans, see: So God Authorized Attempted Mass Kidnapping? Give Me a Break!
For more on the possible tie between the group and a suspected human trafficker, see: Adviser to Detained Americans in Haiti Is Investigated.