In a well-known criminal case in which an American woman from Idaho attempted to smuggle 33 Haitian children across the Haitian border into the Dominican Republic soon after the 2010 earthquake, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took extraordinary measures, including the deployment of former president Bill Clinton as a negotiator, to get the woman released and sent back to the states to freedom. Also released were 9 co-participants in the enterprise, who denied any in-depth knowledge of the plan.
In 2013 an NBC News report claimed that the Clinton State Department had squashed an internal investigation into allegations of pedophilia and prostitution involving State Department personnel.
The Dominican Republic is recognized by the US State Department as a hotspot for the child sex tourism industry. Last year Clinton allies, including Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign manager, John Podesta, got caught up in a furor known as Pizzagate, which claimed that actionable evidence for launching an investigation had been uncovered by lewd pedophiliac images by a Wikileaks release of emails belonging to Podesta, who has acknowledged they are his. Podesta charged "they stole my emails" after a G-20 conference last year. While focused on assigning blame to "the Russians," Podesta inadvertently acknowledged the emails' authenticity. Wikileaks boasts a record of never having published an inauthentic document.
It is highly unusual for a secretary of state to get personally involved in a case of arrested Americans abroad. Department policy is to not interfere with a host nation's legal proceedings. In 2010, that same year, there were more than 3,500 U.S. citizen arrests overseas, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Laura Sislby, now age 46, was convicted in a Haitian court in 2010 of lesser charges than human trafficking, although the Haitian public was demanding such charges. Described by CBS News as an "Idaho businesswoman," Silsby took the Haitian children from their homes with promises to their parents of a "better life" for them in a school in the Dominican Republic, although she had stated to members of an Idaho church, and the Haitian authorities, that the children were orphans. Silsby had falsely stated at one point that she had found the children in front of a collapsed orphanage.
Silsby told the parents that their children would be schooled in next-door Dominican Republic and that they could visit them, even bring them home. But on her website post describing her mission to the public, Silsby said international adoptions were the ultimate goal. Both Dominican and Haitian officials say they told Silsby explicitly that she could not take the children across the Haitian - Dominican border, and that she had not gone though an extensive and strict process to do so required by Haitian law.. Silsby nevertheless attempted to cross the border with the children on a rented bus, and was stopped and arrested by Haitian officials.
The US State Department webpage devoted to information on the "Arrest or Detention of a U.S. Citizen Abroad" states that the department's mandate extends as far as:
-Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English
-Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen with their written permission
-Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate
-Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care for you
-Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process
-Inform the detainee of local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime that may be available to them
-If they would like, ensuring that prison officials are permitting visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice
-Establish an OCS Trust so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations.
The department then makes clear that "We cannot":
-Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
-State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
-Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
-Serve as official interpreters or translators
-Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas
In a Wikileaks State Department email from Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, a department press release on the case reiterated:
"The United State Government respects the sovereign right of the Government of Haiti to conduct its own judicial processes."
Wikileaks emails from the Clinton email server show that Hillary Clinton, her assistant Huma Abedin, and others were following the case and concerned that the freed American citizens would be shielded from the media upon their arrival at an American airport after their negotiated release. Most of them church workers who were told they would be rescuing orphans from the streets of Port Au Prince, who later said they had little knowledge of the details of the plan. In a Wikileaks email from Clinton assistant Caitlin Klevorick to Hillary, Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, and to other State Department officials, dated February 17, 2010, Klevorick writes:
"CA has reached out to HHS who will be receiving the plane and they will help keep media away from the AmCits and facilitate entry. Once they arrive in Miami it is up to them to get to their destination."
Who "CA" stands for is not clear. "HHS" presumably means the Department of Health and Human Services. "Amcits" is American citizens.
Klevorick also comes to attention in the Clinton emails during the Haitian earthquake disaster for her instructions to "flag" various participants in the assistance efforts as "FOB," standing for "friends of Bill."
Of the Americans only Silsby was prosecuted, convicted, and released with "time served" although the prosecutor had recommended a six month sentence. Silsby was originally charged with kidnapping and criminal association, reduced to one count of arranging illegal travel.
Haiti regularly ranks in the top problem countries for human trafficking, and was in the top three in the US State Department's 2016 report.
The route between Haiti and the Dominican Republic for human trafficking is also well-known by activists as a traditional crossing and destination point for children destined for exploitation, including the child sex tourism industry. In a post-earthquake report by the Institute for Justice and Democracy for Haiti entitled "Sex Trafficking of Haitian Kids Exploding," the institute writes:
"Since the earthquake more than 7,300 boys and girls have been smuggled out of their homeland to the Dominican Republic by traffickers profiting on the hunger and desperation of Haitian children and their families."
Woman Activist Investigating Human Trafficking Found Dead
In related news emanating from the same region, a University of Denver researcher and activist combating human trafficking died of as yet unknown causes in Haiti last week, purported by some unconfirmed sources to have committed suicide. Monica Petersen, a recent PhD candidate at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and a researcher for the school's Human Trafficking Center, was purportedly gathering information which included ties between Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham, and an unusual gold mine deal roundly criticized by the Haitian Senate.
Little confirmed information is available from any major media sources on the death of Petersen. In a Internet post describing a memorial speech by Petersen's faculty advisor, Professor Claude d'Estree, d'Estree allegedly said in his remarks “[we] may never know exactly what happened.”
Internet bloggers continue to speculate in a viral discussion if Petersen was in fact murdered as a result of her work.
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