(Photo: AP/Ramon Espinosa)
For 24 hours Wednesday, concerned Christians from various parts of the country joined in a time of prayer and fasting for the release of a U.S. missionary in Haiti who has been imprisoned for over four months without charge.
Though little media attention has been given to 29-year-old pastor Danny Pye, those who have caught wind of his plight have been praying for his release from prison in the southern Haitian coastal town of Jacmel.
Pye, who has been serving in Haiti since 2003, was sent to prison last October after appearing before a local magistrate. The purpose of the court appearance was to negotiate the legal dividing of property and other assets belonging to Joy in Hope, the ministry he and his wife established to serve needy children. Pye and his wife Leann left the ministry to create an orphanage they named Kenbe Fem, Creole for “Hold Strong.”
Though both parties expected to reach a deal, Pye was taken into custody by order of the judge and told he was being held pending an investigation. Under Haitian law, a person can be imprisoned for up to 90 days without charge while awaiting investigation.
"We were shocked that he was arrested that day because we were told it was resolved," Joy in Hope director Brian Williams told The Associated Press.
Notably, according to the most recent human rights report by the U.S. State Department, nearly 7,000 of the country’s 9,000 or so prisoners have not been convicted. Furthermore, many awaiting trial are detained for periods exceeding the length of any sentence they might have received.
“The code of criminal procedure does not assign clear responsibility for criminal investigations and divides authority among police, justices of the peace, prosecutors, and investigative magistrates,” the State Department noted in its 2009 report. “Authorities often failed to question witnesses or complete investigations and rarely conducted autopsies, and examining magistrates often received incomplete files.”
Though Justice Minister Paul Denis told AP that he believes the case will be moving forward, Judge Maxon Samdi, who ordered Pye’s detention, reportedly has been seriously ill and unavailable. Some reports claim that he will be out for a month.
"[Samedi] is hiding from the accusations against his poor performance," claimed one American aid worker in Jacmel to New York-based The Awl, which was among the first websites to report on Pye’s plight.
Amid the uncertainty, Pye’s wife has been encouraging believers to pray for her husband, who may miss the birth of their son.
“I pray every day that Danny will be released,” Leann Pye wrote in her blog last month. “I pray every day that he'll be here for the birth of our son. I beg God to see my pain and hear my weeping. But I find myself now saying like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before the King. If God saves us, it's because He is God. And if he chooses to not, He's still God.”
On the Web:
“Pye’s in Haiti” blog at pyesinhaiti.blogspot.com