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  • Police officers react after suspected gang members attacked a hospital in Guatemala City.

    Police officers react after suspected gang members attacked a hospital in Guatemala City. | Photo: Reuters

The decision comes after seven people were killed on Aug. 16, when several gang members released a prisoner who was admitted to a medical center.

A clinic in Guatemala has announced that it will only treat prisoners in life-threatening circumstances, 

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"The medical team has stated that they will not accept more prisoners unless their life is in danger because that is a deficiency of the penitentiary system, not of the health system," said Carlos Soto, head of the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala.

Few Guatemalan prisons have medical clinics and medications to care for prisoners when they have health problems, so they are usually transferred to public hospitals in the country.

According to Soto, this comes with a high risk for doctors and nurses attending the inmates.

Attorney Corinne Dedik said 30 to 40 people are transferred to hospitals each day, and in many cases, they are not emergency situations. Only 20 percent of the inmates who arrive at the Roosevelt Hospital have serious health problems.

"These are things that should not happen, but they happen because of the lack of security," Soto said.

The decision comes after seven people were killed on Aug. 16, when several gang members released a prisoner who was admitted to the medical center in the Guatemalan capital. 

Anderson Daniel Cabrera, one of the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, was guarded by two prison guards who died during the attack together with five others, including two hospital workers, two children and one more person who was at the hospital, according to Prensa Libre.

Cabrera, 29, was serving a sentence for several murders.

After the incident, the hospital's medical team demanded more security, forcing the government to provide 28 soldiers to guard the clinic.

In Guatemala, there are about 22,600 people in prisons across the country.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said his administration would install mobile clinics in the country's prisons and detention centers, a move already announced five years ago under the government of Otto Perez Molina, but was a failure since it only lasted a few days, according to Soto.

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