International Law

New Haiti Child Custody Turmoil: Dad Says Son Kidnapped, Jailed US Volunteer Says Tot Died

In the latest clash between Haitian authorities and American aid workers trying to help out in the wake of the devastating earthquake earlier this year, a United States citizen volunteer has been jailed as a dispute over a 15-month-old boy is investigated.

A distraught father blames Paul Waggoner and his Materials Management Relief Corps for the disappearance of his hospitalized 15-month-old son in February. But Waggoner, who sold his construction business to found the aid group, and others in his group say he never touched the child, who died and was cremated after his father failed to claim the body, reports the Associated Press.

The father, Frantz Philistin, filed suit against the hospital in March and Waggoner left the country, in fear of repercussions, then soon returned. When Philistin saw Waggoner at a restaurant on Sunday with American friends he called the police. They arrested the group, but soon let all but Waggoner go.

Under the country’s laws, he can be held for three months as the case is investigated. His lawyer, Edwin Coq—who also represented 10 American Baptist missionaries held in Haiti earlier this year in an unrelated adoption dispute—presented a death certificate for the boy in court yesterday to no avail, the article recounts.

“They don’t tell you anything. They just leave you in the dark,” Waggoner said yesterday as he was returned to jail, the AP reports.

Related coverage: “Final US Missionary, Laura Silsby, Is Freed in Haiti After Being Convicted”

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