Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Report: Major Abuses Committed at Guatemala Hospital

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observance this past Monday with this year’s theme calling for the “removal of barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”  Sadly many barriers continue to exist against the disabled around the world such as the recent allegations of abuse in Guatemala.

An investigation by the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala and Disability Rights International (DRI) concluded that abuse was rampant against patients at the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital.  The joint study claimed that approximately 300 children were kept in isolation cells, and that hospital staff and convicts of a nearby prison often abused patients. 

The report also noted that patients lack proper treatment and die from curable illnesses. As a result, there is a high risk of HIV infection and this is made worse since the hospital allegedly lacks the resources to treat those exposed to the virus.

“We found a climate of terror. Even authorities at the hospital are afraid of their own staff.  Authorities told us they cannot remove known abusers because they fear they will be killed or threatened by gang members due to the links between staff and the Mara Salvatrucha (street gang),” observed DRI attorney Sofía Galván via a statement on the organization’s website.

Alexander Colep, an investigator with the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office, told the AP that he had no knowledge of the report and he has not received any public compliant against the hospital.  Nevertheless, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reportedly urged Guatemalan authorities to thoroughly investigate the accusations made in the report.  Moreover, the embedded video seen at the top of this post from Al Jazeera English depicts some of the substandard and deplorable conditions at the Federico Mora facility.

Guatemala signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that went into effect in 2008.

Video Source– YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – El Periódico de Guatemala, Fox News, Disability Rights International, UN Enable

1 comment:

Anna Walther said...

the 300 children citation is incorrect and due to an error by the Associated Press - which issued a retraction. There are approximately 300 (341 at last count) patients at the hospital. Among these, some minors/children were found during monitoring visits. On the last visit, March 2013, only 1 minor was found.

Anna Walther
Lawyer, Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala