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Haiti judge orders trial for US missionary on irregular travel charges

[JURIST] A Haitian judge on Monday dismissed charges of kidnapping and criminal association against all 10 members of a US missionary group arrested [JURIST report] in January but ordered one to stand trial for making "irregular travel" arrangements involving 30 Haitian children. Laura Silsby, the only missionary who has not been released by Haitian authorities, will remain in custody [CNN report] until her trial. According to a 1980 decree in the Haitian Criminal Code [text, in French], irregular travel is the term for traveling or organizing travel originating in Haiti with a foreign destination in a manner that does not comply with established laws. If convicted, Silsby could face six months to three years of incarceration.

Last month, a Haitian judge ordered [JURIST report] the release of one of the last two US missionaries out of a group of 10 who were arrested following the January 12 earthquake [JURIST news archive] in connection with their attempt to take 33 children across the Haitian border into the Dominican Republic. The judge had announced [JURIST report] in February that the two remaining missionaries would also be released after the other eight members of the missionary group affiliated with the Central Valley Baptist Church [church website] of Idaho and the New Life Children's Refuge Charity [BBC profile] were released [JURIST report] earlier that month. Haitian authorities originally charged [JURIST report] each of the 10 missionaries in February with one count of kidnapping and one count of criminal association, asserting that many of the children were not orphans.

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