It's about our community and our spirituality!

People Who Deny Foreigners Justice Expect Justice As Foreigners

The NBC Nightly News with Lester Hold filling in for Brian Williams started off with their top story about the ten missionaries from Idaho who were arrested at the Haiti and Dominican Republic border with thirty three undocumented Haitian children.  The ten have been charged with child kidnapping and conspiracy and are awaiting their day in court.  The ten detainees managed to slip a note to the NBC reporter asking for help.  The note claimed that they are being held without being heard.  The note said that the Haitian authorities are not letting them contact their family or to tell the truth.  The people are sleeping on the floor of the hot and steamy jail and are uncomfortable.  And what is probably the scariest fact of all, in the Haitian judicial system, the assumption is guilty and the accused have to prove their innocence.

There appears to be some discrepancy as to what exactly is happening with these people.  The group leader, Laura Silsby, claims that they are meeting with the authorities and are getting their legal representation.  She says she has nothing to fear because the truth will set them free.  But the note went on to say that that Ms. Silsby is out of touch and does not represent the entire group.  These people want their government to come and rescue them.  The family and relatives of these people are hoping that the United States is working on a backroom deal to negotiate their release even though, at least publicly, the United States ambassador to Haiti, former President Bill Clinton, has said he has nothing to do with their case.

As Americans, traveling overseas and to other countries, despite any circumstances surrounding any arrest or suspicion of illegal activity, we feel entitled to our American style justice and we feel like we don’t have to settle for the rules of law that exist elsewhere.  Even on a good day, a broke down country like Haiti shouldn’t even be trying to waste their limited time and resources trying to try Americans there to help by taking children out of that hellhole of an environment anyway.  As Americans, some of us have become conditioned to think that we should be given the benefit of innocence.  At least I believe only some of us can.

Visibly black citizens aren’t always given the same benefit of an assumption of innocence that other people might be given.  In fact, all too often people from the black community are assumed to be guilty even though, at least theoretically, we are constitutionally entitled to the same presumption of innocence that others may enjoy.  Even though we might be legally innocent, the reality is that black people are more likely to be railroaded by our legal system.

Nevertheless, despite all of its inherent flaws due to racial prejudices, most Americans have faith in our justice system and believe it is geared to give most people the benefit of doubt.  In fact, people think our system is so fair that they don’t believe foreigners are entitled to it.  At least that’s what I think people are saying when they say that the people being held at the camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba aren’t entitled to a fair trial through our judicial system and should be judged through a kangaroo court that is more likely to guarantee a guilty outcome.  Many Americans are under the impression that our federal constitution that clearly says all men are endowed by the creator with certain unalienable rights does not apply to foreigners.  Some Americans actually believe it is constitutional to deny foreigners their day in court.  So if that’s true here, wouldn’t be the same there?

So now we have Americans in another country who want to be heard, who want due process, who want to be heard in a court of law, complaining that they are not getting their fair day in court.  If we don’t believe foreigners are entitled to legal protection under our laws, what makes us think that Americans are entitled to protection to the laws in foreign countries?  If we can detain foreigners here for years without ever giving them an appearance in court, can we really expect to be entitled to the laws in foreign countries?

The ten Americans being held in Haiti for being caught red handed trying to take children out of the country have been waiting for a couple of weeks for due process.  They are being processed by the court system.  There are people in Guantanamo who have been held for years without any end to their incarceration.  Americans are arguing over what venue will guarantee a guilty verdict for the accused.  Maybe the people controlling the Haitian justice system are just following our lead.  Maybe the entire world will soon follow America’s lead and everybody will just have to be a little more careful when they go visiting outside of their country.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - Posted by | Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts |


  1. Spot on analysis, but one nit to pick:
    In the essay above, it says, “our federal constitution that clearly says all men are endowed by the creator with certain unalienable rights…”

    In fact, it’s the Declaration of Independence that asserts men are endowed by their creator with anything. The Constitution makes no mention of a creator at all.

    I hope this will be a lesson to anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to do legally questionable things in other countries, and a lesson to people who think it’s okay of our country to do legally questionable things to foreigners.

    Comment by Jeff | Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Jeff,

      You’d think I’d know better by now. I should never assume what’s in those documents. Especially since I barely got a “C” out of my civics class. Thanks for the correction.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Reply

  2. I am at a lost for a solution for what to do for my Haitian brothers and sisters.
    Can somebody tell me what gunships,warplanes and warrior military forces have to do with humanitarianism in Haiti right now?
    What is it going to take for Haiti to win the freedom to live, compete and prosper on the globally connecting world solely by its own self determination free of out side dictates.
    I an certain that if Haiti surrendered to be free of outside dictatorship, it would have the technology and human power needed to build there infrastructure within a years time.
    Then an economic and political structure that would be solely in the interest of the worlds racist rule.

    Comment by Akinwole | Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. Brother peacemaker you have been on fire lately! This article and the “assassins are terrorists” article should be food for though of any person of color who wants to see what the “American way” aka “American hypocrisy” is all about.


    Comment by Umkhonto we Sizwe | Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Reply

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