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Adventists: Miami-Based Church Leader, Daughter Released After Haiti Kidnapping

Adventist Today
Adventist Pastor Elie Henry (right) and daughter Irma Henry.

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 nighton 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.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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