Ten Arrest Cases Already Waiting …
The US Embassy in Port au Prince announced the resumption of routine American Citizens Services (but not visa services), effective today, February 1:
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has issued this message to advise U.S. citizens in Haiti of the resumption of routine American Citizens Services, effective February 1, 2010. U.S. citizens seeking services including passports, Reports of Death of Americans Abroad, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and notarials should contact the American Citizens Services unit to make an appointment, by calling 509-2229-8000 Monday through Friday between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that this resumption of services applies only to American Citizens Services, and not to visa services. All visa services remain suspended until further notice.
Evacuation flights continue to depart the International Airport in Port-au-Prince. U.S. citizens wishing to depart Haiti should make their way to the airport during early daylight hours, in as safe a manner as possible. They are encouraged to bring their passport and identification, if available, and food, water and supplies, if possible, as facilities at the airport are limited to nonexistent.
Read the full announcement here.
Meanwhile, ten members of American Baptist church group New Life Children's Refuge were arrested and charged with child trafficking over the weekend as they allegedly tried to take 33 children out of the country.
AFP reported that “Border police "saw a bus with a lot of children. Thirty-three children. When asked about the children's documents, they had no documents," Haitian Culture and Communications Minister Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said.”
The WSJ reported that “Mr. Ham, the assistant pastor, said, "From what we understood, they had all the paperwork they thought they needed. But they got to the border and they did not have one of the pieces of paper they apparently needed, and next thing they knew they were being arrested."
They can't both be right.
BBC News in PaP asks if the Haiti 'orphans' case: Misunderstanding or kidnap?
[I]nternational law is very clear: taking children and trying to cross an international border without permission or documentation is child smuggling, regardless of your intentions.
"You can't just go and take a child out of a country - no matter what country you are in," said Kent Page, a spokesman for Unicef in Haiti.
"There are processes that have to be followed, you can't just pick up a child and walk out of a country with a child, no matter what your best intentions are," he added.
And then - as Sunday wore - a new development.
The orphanage in Port-au-Prince that is now looking after the 33 children has been talking to them, and it appears that not all of them are even orphans.
USA Today reports that “U.S. diplomats met with the detained Americans and gave them bug spray and rations.” It also says that the ten Americans arrested are scheduled to have a hearing today.
Are there even local lawyers who can assist them there when so much of the city is still in chaos?