[Editor’s note: In addition to Rep. Leo Ryan, other Congressmen receiving this letter included Sens. Birch Bayh, Lloyd Bentsen, Edward Brooke, Clifford Chase, Frank Church, Dick Clark, Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, Thomas Eagleton, John Glenn, Floy Haskell, Mark Hatfield, S.I. Hayakawa, Daniel Inouye, Jacob Javits, Patrick Leahy, Paul Sarbanes, Richard Schweiker, and Lowell Weicker; and Reps. Don Bonker, John Burton, Phillip Burton, Ron Dellums, Robert Duncan, Don Edwards, Paul N. McCloskey, Norman Mineta, Timothy Wirth, and Clement Zablocki.]
March 17, 1978
Dear Mr. Ryan:
As you have previously expressed concern in the John Victor Stoen custody case, I am pleased to forward this progress report.
On February 14, the American Consul in Georgetown, Guyana met with an Guyanese Minister of Justice, Mohamed Shahabuddeen. Minister Shahabuddeen stated that child custody cases are civil disputes and therefore there is no legal requirement that hearings be scheduled within a specific time period. Further, the Minister indicated that a judge’s written opinion may take four months to compose and release. Consequently, the delay to date in the Stoen case is not considered excessive under Guyanese legal procedures.
The Department shall continue to keep you informed of progress in this case. Should you require further information, please contact our Office of Special Consular Services, telephone 632-3018.
Douglas J. Bennet, Jr.
Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations