February 9th, 2010
04:51 PM ET
4 years ago

State Department rebuffs call for Clinton intervention in Haiti case

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not intervene on behalf of 10 Americans detained in Haiti.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not intervene on behalf of 10 Americans detained in Haiti.

Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not get directly involved in the case of the 10 Americans detained in Haiti on child abduction charges, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday.

"It would be highly unusual for the secretary of state to intervene in a case involving the judicial process of another country," spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an off-camera question-and-answer session.

Reginald Brown - the Washington lawyer who represents one of the detained Americans - sent a letter to Clinton on Tuesday asking her to personally intervene with Haitian authorities.

"This is all the result of a colossal misunderstanding and we are hoping it will resolve itself," Brown said about the arrest and detention of his client, Jim Allen, and the other nine Americans. "We would appreciate it if you could continue to devote significant personal attention to this matter, as we are confident that with your assistance this misunderstanding could be quickly resolved."

He asked Clinton to make "a personal request" to Haitian authorities to allow Allen to speak to his wife and her lawyers and to have fresh supplies.

"As far as I can tell, the one thing our detained American citizens have been able to do is communicate with just about anybody who wants to talk with them," Crowley said at the State Department. "If family members wish to talk to them, I think that is something that can be easily facilitated through our embassy in Port au Prince or through the Haitian government."

The State Department continues carefully to defer to Haitian authorities.

"We have had regular consular access and meetings with the 10 American citizens," Crowley said. "I believe we have facilitated getting medicine or other needs to our citizens. We are doing exactly what we would do with detained Americans any where in the world.

"As to intervening directly in the case, we are very respectful of the Haitian government and of Haitian law."

Crowley left open the possibility that there are alternatives to a Haitian trial.

"This is a Haitian legal process. The matters right now involve whether these individual have broken Haitian law. We have talked to Haitian officials in general terms about their ability to conduct this procedure. If they want to explore alternative avenues with us, we will be happy to have that conversation," he said.

The State Department also has ruled out any special role for former President Bill Clinton in a possible release of the Americans.

"It is unnecessary for former President Bill Clinton to play the role of intermediary as he did in North Korea in the case of the journalists being held," Crowley told CNN on Monday. "The situation in North Korea and the situation in Haiti are dramatically different. In Haiti there is a functioning government with which we have diplomatic relations and established channels to monitor and deal with bilateral issues. North Korea is an opaque society with which we have no diplomatic relations."

Crowley said there are other Americans in custody in Haiti, in addition to the 10 Americans, but he provided no details of their identity or circumstances. Some are believed to be held on drug charges.

"There are other Americans in custody. I don't know what their charges are. ... I think there were some in custody before the earthquake," he said.


Filed under: Haiti • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Eddie B

    These people were obviously doing something illegal and wrong. For them to be exposed for trying this before and getting caught is very condemning. Also, they called these kids orphans when they clearly had parents that cared for them is also a big nail in their coffins.

    February 9, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Jane/Seattle

    Meanwhile, where is ALL this Aid Money going and why are so many people there still hungry and thirsty?

    February 9, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Kiran

    Let the Haitian's solve this problem. Just b/c you call yourself a missionary, doesn't mean you're doing God's work.

    February 9, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Stacie

    I don't know what reports you're getting Jane/Seattle, but my friends with family in Haiti say they are very greatful for the Aid Money. It is keeping them alive when everything they owned has been distroyed.

    February 9, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Average American

    Haiti is a sovereign nation. They have their own laws and court system. We have no place meddling in their legal dealings.

    February 9, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. James

    Haiti is a sovereign state, and these Americans may have broken some of its laws - specific laws which are in line with international legal standards. Why should the State Department work to have them released before they are even tried?

    February 9, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. rachel

    When will we learn from crossing boarders in unfriendly nations(north Korea reporters, Iran Hikers) to taking it upon ourselves to "save" people we can't do whatever we want in another country and expect our government to bail us out all the time.

    February 9, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Rickster

    "It would be highly unusual for the secretary of state to intervene in a case involving the judicial process of another country," spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an off-camera question-and-answer session.

    Really? Since when? That's exactly what they are supposed to do....protect American citizens.

    No wonder all of these pathetic little tin-horn countries push us around. We've lost our spine.

    February 9, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. Sarah

    They knew they were doing something wrong and illegal......so let the Haitian's deal with them......maybe the next time the Christrians think about helping the children they will do it in the honest and legal way......these people for all we know could be dealing in Child Trafficing.........but covering it up by using a Religion to do it.........sorry bunch if you ask me......

    February 9, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Thomas in MT

    Idealogical zealots who took advantage of a terrible disaster to further their own myopic goals. As long as people with invisible friends are given free rein to do as they please under the guise of doing God's work this crap continues. My own moron nephew has been out of work for 2 years, sends Newsletters out through his church telling everyone what a great job of doing nothing he is doing and asking for money to help pay his mortgage while he waits for God to tell him what His plan for him is. "Umm hey Bob? Your invisible friend called, he said GET A JOB". Thing of it is, he pulls in more per year than I do and I work my ass off. Pretty soon Jesse Jackson will start flapping his gums too. Those folks can stay put in their Haitian jail until God calls 'em home!

    February 9, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. Mrs. S Callahan

    If SOS Clinton doesn't intervene then her husband should...this is starting to irk alot of American citizens who have sent their hard earn bucks to Haiti to see this large group jailed...not to mention..it appears there is really one or two culprits in this whole case (from both countries) ....yet punishing all...that is wrong, and certainly not justice for America or Haiti. Let 'em out...

    February 9, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. jeff jackson, alabama

    From everything I've read,ASSUMING IT'S TRUE,
    there's one bad apple in that group who should
    be left in Haiti to face justice.
    This woman has not payed her bills in some time,
    she owes people money from bogus businesses,
    and she declined to make payments on her lavish
    house. She seems to want to be a flim flam artist
    but lacks the sense to do it.
    The other people in this group probably had no idea
    of the mindset of this woman in their mist.
    The reason I think she should face justice in Haiti
    is because she has gone too long without facing it
    in America.
    Don't judge an entire group of good Christians by the
    actions of one bad apple.

    February 9, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. So cal

    Thomas in MT....

    I couldn't agree more, it's about time these yahoos using "God" as a means to do anything needs to stop....

    February 9, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  14. Apollyon

    Oh what the American Taliban is going to say about this!!! "This proves Obama is an Islamic terrorist. If he was really a Christian, he'd deploy the Rangers to break them out!"

    IF this wasn't the SECOND time this group tried this, they might have an ignorance defense. Unfortunately that isn't the case... instead they are law breakers.

    February 9, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  15. obernor

    just let's 10 american leave, because to much problem in haiti what now . obernor

    February 9, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. eolufemi

    We say foreigners shouldn't even have rights under our constitution.

    At least these guys are going to be tried in a court of law.

    February 9, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    What a wonderful learning experience. Next time we silly Americans ought to think twice about our callous idea of sending cash and physical help to places that are in desperate need. Stupid us, trying to help out. Nothing like a good dose of punishment for somthing so horrid as helping people in need. Instead, we should enjoy our beachside condos and drink the margaritas before they melt. That way we don't have to read about Americans who are detained for their crimes.

    February 9, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    IF you go into a sovereign country, and attempt to take children out, without going through the proper channels you will be arrested!

    Haiti should throw the book at these idiots!

    February 9, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  19. Brian from NJ

    The "Big Guy" upstairs is not going to like this one... nope, not at all...

    I can hear him now...

    "You did what? Stole people's children during a diaster relief effort? An you thought this would please me?"

    February 9, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. Salida Lilly

    Forget it, someone just needs some postering. These missionaries even though they erred in their process were doing these kids a favour. My understanding is that the parentes were willing to let their kids go in most cases. If you want to give your child to another for a better future, should a government that does nothing, is overly corrupt and inept stop you? I hope the missionaries can be let go. I know they realize it was a mistake to take such action. They should not be the villians for the government to show how they can protect the children. If they love the children so much, they should SHOW it. Provide quality education, food, access to adequate health facilities and clean water. If I was a Hatian parent who had given my child to be taken by the missionaries, I would file a suit against the lame duck government.

    February 9, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. Liberty Queen

    These so-called missionaries from Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, especially Laura Silsby, violated the sovereign laws of Haiti by abducting children for an orphanage that does not exist. Let them be charged, prosecuted and sentenced according to Haitian law. You can steal children in the USA, Mrs. Silsby, what makes you think you can do it in Haiti?

    February 9, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |