Guyana, one of the most primitive countries in the world

November 4, 2011 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

In which country in the year 2011, with all the international laws on human rights that nations have signed up, a remand prisoner (please note not a convicted felon) cries out in the middle of the night for chest pain (indicative of an oncoming heart attack) and is told that he has to wait until the next morning when the medex comes?
In many European Union countries, perhaps all, the death of that remand prisoner would have resulted in manslaughter charges against prison authorities
This man died and his death will be completely forgotten by the time this issue of KN is one day old. Guyanese now know that when a Camp Street inmate shouts out in pain, whatever the condition that inmate is in, he has to wait until the morning for treatment. What makes this country so primitive is that the central prison has no authority to take a prisoner to the hospital at midnight in a ride that would literally take five minutes.
The Georgetown Hospital is less than two miles from Camp and Durban Streets to Thomas and New Market Streets.
This country has been officially informed that prisoners will have to die if they suffer a life-threatening malady in the wee hours of the morning because only in the mornings the medex does his/her rounds. I take this position based on what I read in the two independent dailies that when the inmate yelled out for pain, he was told he had to wait for the morning visit of the medex.
What is sad about this fatality is that the man was not convicted for any crime. This brings into question the continued denial of bail for murder.
I don’t know this victim. I am writing based on what I read in the KN and SN. It reminds me of Clement Rohee, Home Affairs Minister, who said to journalists that why should they ask him about torture when he has other important matters on his plate?
Was this man a protégé of Cheddi Jagan? Who is at fault? Cheddi Jagan for imprinting his ideology on this gentleman? Or the fault lies with the gentleman who didn’t emulate Papa Cheddi?
I read that a man was beaten by public-spirited persons after he attacked at gunpoint, Dutch Bottle Café’s owner on North Road. My sympathies to the owner who was badly beaten. The man, after he was detained, was taken to Georgetown Public Hospital then sent back to the Brickdam lock-ups. He was found dead the next day in his cell. I guess life is cheap in Guyana. You go into the hospital for some minor treatment, you never come out.
Even if one can cynically argue that the Dutch Bottle Café robber deserved what he got (after all crime is out of control in Guyana) and there are many who would do so, didn’t the hospital detect any serious internal bleeding?
How can the population of this land accept a policy that when a prisoner is sick, he/she could only be seen by a medex the next day?
Mark Benschop and I were remanded to the Brickdam lock-ups for three days over a traffic violation that does not carry a custodial sentence. If one of us had fallen seriously ill, could we have lost our lives because we could not have been transported to the Georgetown Hospital?
I guess the wife of this victim is a poor woman who perhaps will not pursue legal action. But there is Legal Aid. And no matter how long it takes for this court case to come up, she should sue the Attorney-General for five hundred million dollars for her husband’s death.
When prisoners are sick, they should be taken to the hospital.
I am about to write an observation that is not nice, but I will go ahead anyway.
We are in an election campaign. Shouldn’t this tragedy be made into a campaign issue? I feel guilty saying this, because it could be interpreted as using the man’s death for election purposes. I am contending that it doesn’t matter what time of night it is, when a prisoner is in pain and he/she cries out, that person must be allowed to visit a hospital.
What do you tell this man’s children when they grow up? That in the year 2011 in Guyana, an inmate of the Camp Street prison could not see a doctor after certain hours despite the seriousness of the illness. Are we creating violent young people with our backward system? Let’s see what the election result produces.

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