Iruan’s guardianship should be decided in courts: Tien

The China Post staff

Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao said yesterday that the custody dispute over a Taiwanese-Brazilian orphan is basically an international judicial issue and should be resolved through judicial procedures. Tien made the remarks after Brazil’s official news agency reported on Tuesday that Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has decided to intervene in the dispute over the guardianship of Iruan Ergui Wu, a five-year-old boy whose Chinese name is Wu Yi-hua. “As the custody battle between Yi-hua’s Taiwanese and Brazilian relatives is a civil dispute, we think it’s inappropriate for any administrative agency or political force to meddle with the case,” Tien said. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Chang Siao-yue said the ministry has not received any information from Brazilian government authorities about Yi-hua’s custody issues. The Brazilian official news agency quoted Brazilian government spokesman George Lamaziere as saying that President Cardoso has ordered the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to adopt necessary measures to push for Yi-hua’s early return to Brazil. Chang said the Foreign Ministry has contacted the Brazilian representative office in Taipei after learning of the latest Brazilian news report. “The Brazilian representative office told us that it has not received any new directive from its home country so far,” Chang said, adding that there has been no new development in the case. Chang further said the ROC Foreign Ministry hopes that the boy’s Taiwanese and Brazilian relatives can respect law and settle their custody dispute through legal procedures. “The Brazilian Foreign Ministry has also informed us earlier this month that it hopes the issue can be resolved through judicial procedures,” Chang noted. According to the latest Brazilian news report, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Lafer is scheduled to meet July 25 with Ana Corsa, a member of the Brazilian House of Representatives from the southern state of Estado de Rio Grande do Sul, to discuss the custody dispute. The report said Corsa has been assisting Yi-hua’s Brazilian grandmother Rosa Leocadia Da Silva Ergui to seek a solution to the custody issue. Rosa reportedly has long been granted Yi-hua’s legal guardianship by a Brazilian court, but the boy’s Taiwanese uncle has refused to return the child to her.

Brazil does not maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it has a representative office in Taiwan. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry reportedly told the speaker of the Estado de Rio Grande do Sul State Assembly last week that as Yi-hua’s guardianship is basically a personal and family issue, his Brazilian relatives should retain a lawyer in Taiwan to resolve the case.

The ministry’s suggestion reportedly annoyed some state assembly members who then asked house members elected from their state to pressure higher-ranking Brazilian government authorities to push the Foreign Ministry to take concrete steps to help resolve the issue.

Overseas Chinese community sources in the southern Brazilian state claimed that although Brazilian human rights groups have thrown their full support behind the boy’s Brazilian relatives’ custody claim, the effect of such support remains limited.