U.S. Embassy note to Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 16, 1977

Following a California Superior Court ruling on August 26, 1977, which awarded preliminary custody of John Victor Stoen to his mother, Grace Stoen, the Stoens’ attorney Jeffrey Haas flew to Guyana to seek enforcement of the order. On September 6, the Guyana Supreme Court issued a writ of habeas corpus ordering Jim Jones to produce the child in a Guyanese court. The Temple declined to accept service of the writ, much less abide by its order, whereupon the Supreme Court declared John Victor a ward of the court and said it would consider contempt charges against Jones. According to Haas, however – and apparently to the U.S. Embassy – the Guyanese government “issued instructions of the court order not be implemented.”

[This document is the Embassy’s note of concern to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “over this apparent intervention on the part of the Government” into the matter. While the US government insisted throughout the process that it maintained neutrality on issues of child custody in foreign countries, especially when both disputants were Americans, members of the Temple consistently claimed the Embassy favored the Stoens. This note may have given ammunition to that claim.

U.S. Embassy note to Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Originally posted on June 16th, 2020.

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