Laura Silsby

January 29, 2010 – Clinton friend, Laura Silsby, and child trafficking in Haiti

Laura Silsby, left, leaves a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, Monday, May 17, 2010. (Credit: Esteban Felix/The Associated Press)

“In the first week of February, former President Bill Clinton accepted an expanded role as special envoy for Haiti, on behalf of the United Nations, to lead the coordination of international earthquake recovery and reconstruction efforts. One of Clinton’s first tasks in Haiti, however, was to put out the fire of a child abduction scandal involving American citizens.

On January 29, 2010, less than three weeks after the earthquake, Haitian authorities arrested ten U.S. Baptist missionaries for attempting to take 33 children by bus across the border into the Dominican Republic without proper documentation. A week later, the missionaries were charged with child kidnapping and criminal association. While the missionaries claimed good intentions and ignorance of Haitian laws, Haitian prosecutors argued that there had been intentional wrong doing. In the course of a month, President Clinton brokered the release of all the missionaries, except for the group leader, Laura Silsby.

Suspicions about Silsby’s intent to smuggle or traffic the children to the Dominican Republic further increased, when on March 19, 2010, Silsby’s legal advisor, Jorge Torres-Puello, an American-Dominican living in the Dominican Republic as a fugitive was arrested and accused of human trafficking. U.S. authorities revealed that Torres-Puello was “linked to a network that trafficked in Haitian and Central American children and [was]wanted in the United States, El Salvador and Costa Rica.” (Read more: Shani R. King/Harvard Human Rights Journal/2012)

“Hillary has a long history of interest in Ms. Silsby. Wikileak emails dating back till at least 2001 have been found in her archives discussing Laura’s NGO. Laura had claimed she planned to build an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, but authorities in the country said she never submitted an application for this purpose. They instead located to Haiti.” (Wikileaks, 2/12/2010), (Wikileaks, 2/17/2010), (Michael Smith News, 11/04/2017)

“Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has dropped kidnapping charges against all 10 American missionaries detained for trying to take children out of the country after the Jan. 12 earthquake. But the only missionary still in jail, Laura Silsby, the group’s leader, still faces a charge of organizing the illegal transportation of 33 children in the chaos after the disaster, the judge said Monday. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Judge Saint-Vil did not explain his decision.” (New York Times, 4/26/2010)

“The last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake was freed Monday when a judge convicted her but sentenced her to time already served in jail.

Laura Silsby, the organizer of the ill-fated effort to take the children to an orphanage being set up in the neighboring Dominican Republic, returned to her cell briefly to retrieve belongings before quickly heading to the Port-au-Prince airport.” (Read more: Idaho Press-Tribune, 5/17/2010)