Friday, March 18, 2011

American legal standards only apply here

Daniel Pye returned home to Bradenton on Thursday night after spending five months in Haiti on false charges of having a fake ID card.

The missionary, who cares for 22 children in Haiti with his wife at an orphanage, was initially jailed by an investigative judge, who -- by law -- had the option to hold him for up to 90 days as a case was being built.

During his time behind bars, Pye's wife Leann brought him meals and provided cleaning supplies. She brought medical aid for malaria, skin infections and digestive issues that put him in isolation.

The treatment of Pye underlines the fact that American legal standards only apply in America.

Ken Boodhoo, an emeritus professor at Florida International University specializing in Haiti, said applying our standards to another country is simply unfair.

“It’s fourth world ... they don’t have structure in their society to help them,” Boodhoo recently told the Bradenton Herald. “He would get good treatment there by Haitian standards, because he is an American. It’s very likely they would permit his friends and relatives to take meals to him.” 

Pye, an American citizen and a Haitian resident, has worked in Haiti for the past seven years. But his legal status in the country doesn't make him different from any other American who travels overseas.

On its travel website, the U.S. State Department issues a warning: " ... while in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses." 

The State Department encourages travelers to visit its travel site before planning any trip abroad. You'll find the latest travel alerts and embassy locations. It's best to be aware of the risks before getting that passport stamped.

No comments:

Post a Comment