PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian and U.S. officials are considering a trial in the United States for 10 Americans who were arrested while trying to bus children out of Haiti without documents or permission.
The aborted Baptist "rescue mission" has become a major distraction for a crippled government trying to provide basic life support to millions of earthquake survivors. Haiti's courts and justice ministry were destroyed in the disaster, which also killed many judicial officials.
But the government insisted Monday that the Americans – however well-intentioned – must be prosecuted to send a strong message against child trafficking.
"There can be no question of taking our children off the streets and out of the country," Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelin Lassegue said. "They will be judged. ... That's what is important."
Since their arrest Friday near the border, the church group has been held inside two small concrete rooms in the same judicial police headquarters building where ministers have makeshift offices and give disaster response briefings. They have not yet been charged.
One of their lawyers said they were being treated poorly: "There is no air conditioning, no electricity. It is very disturbing," Attorney Jorge Puello told the AP by phone from the Dominican Republic, where the Baptists hoped to shelter the children in a rented beach hotel.
One of the Americans, Charisa Coulter of Boise, Idaho, was being treated Monday at the University of Miami's field hospital near the capital's international airport. Looking pale and speaking with difficulty from a green Army cot, the 24-year-old Coulter said she had either severe dehydration or the flu. A diabetic, she initially thought her insulin had gone bad in the heat.
Two Haitian police officers stood besides the cot, guarding her.