Grace Stoen letter to Congress, November 1, 1978

[Letterhead of US Sen. Ernest F. Hollings]

November 1, 1978

Mr. Douglas J. Bennet
Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Doug:

I am enclosing a copy of a letter I received from Ms. Grace L. Stoen concerning her son [handwritten insertion “in Guyana”]. I would appreciate you looking into this matter and furnishing my office with a full report.

Many thanks for your cooperation.

With kindest regards, I am

/s/ Ernest F. Hollings
Ernest F. Hollings


c/o Jeffrey A. Haas, Attorney at Law
433 Turk Street
San Francisco, California 94102

Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
United States Senate
115 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Hollings;

I write to request your assistance in securing the return of my six-year-old son who is being held in Guyana by a fanatical group of United States citizens known as the People’s Temple. I have exhausted all judicial remedies available in Guyana. After a year of litigation, that Guyana courts have refused to rule on the habeas petition filed by my attorney.

I have repeatedly sought the aid of the State Department. In the past year, through my attorneys, I have protested a series of blatant denials of justice by the Guyana courts. Included in this series of violations of the most basic notion of due process have been flagrant governmental intervention with the enforcement of a preliminary court order, excessive delay in the rendering of judgment and finally the refusal to render judgment. Please find enclosed copies of correspondence relating to these protests.

I believe that I am being denied justice in Guyana for two reasons: (1) the People’s Temple, the fanatical group which holds my son is a large landowner which has poured a great deal of money into the country; and (2) the government fears reprisals if the court issues a ruling unfavorable to the People’s Temple. Rather than risk upsetting this large group of fanatics, the courts have simply refused to rule.

I am informed that it is a basic principle of international law that a government has the duty to extend diplomatic protection to citizens whose rights have been violated. At stake here are the most basic of human rights. Yet the State Department is not shown the interest or concern that one routinely sees when the interests of United States corporations are short-changed by foreign governments.

Any effort you might make to persuade the State Department to assist us would be most appreciated.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Grace L. Stoen
Grace L. Stoen