Adventists: Miami-Based Church Leader, Daughter Released After Haiti Kidnapping
The Haitian-American head of the Seventh-Day Adventists' Inter-American division, and his daughter, were abducted Christmas Eve in Port-au-Prince.
Seventh-Day Adventist leaders say the Haitian-American director of their church's Inter-American division, and his daughter, were released Monday after being kidnapped in Haiti on Christmas Eve.
In a statement posted Monday night on its Inter-America website, Adventist Pastor Leonard Johnson said Pastor Elie Henry and his daughter Irma were free in Port-au-Prince "and are doing well."
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Pastor Henry and his daughter were the latest victims of a ransom kidnapping wave that has paralyzed Haiti this year. According to Adventist statements, they were abducted in Port-au-Prince December 24 as they left an Adventist hospital. Haitian media report their kidnappers demanded a $5 million ransom for their release but the Adventist statement did mention a ransom amount.
Pastor Henry was born in Haiti and is based in Miami, where he heads the Inter-American office for the Adventists, a Protestant Christian denomination. Irma Henry is a physical therapist at the Adventist Hospital in Haiti.
In a statement over the weekend, Adventist Church administrators had said the release of Henry and his daughter was being negotiated. But Monday's statement did not indicate if a ransom had been paid. (WLRN could not reach Adventist administrators for this report.)
The case is just the most recent in a year-long surge of kidnappings the Haitian government now admits has become a national emergency. According to Haitian human rights groups, at least four ransom abductions are reported in the country each day.
The crisis hit a flashpoint last month when a Port-au-Prince high school student was kidnapped and killed when her ransom was not paid on time. Her corpse was left in a trash heap at the side of a road.
Earlier this month, many medical workers in Port-au-Prince went on strike briefly to protest the government's inability to stem a rising number of kidnappings of doctors and nurses.
Critics say authoritarian Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has lost control of the situation — and that Haitian police are often involved with kidnapping gangs. Witnesses say many kidnappers have worn police uniforms while Moïse and Haiti's police deny the charges.