Political Prisoner Allowed to Die

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Political prisoners at the 'Giron' jail in Santander department have called for an investigation into the October 20th death of political prisoner Jordan Javier Ramirez. According to fellow inmates, prison authorities denied medical treatment to Mr Ramirez for five months despite a severe illness – essentially allowing him to die.

In a communiqué from political prisoners at the jail they allege that the director of the prison, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Alfonso Bautista, the head of security, Captain Fernandez Cuartas, and the director of prison health, Dr Lorena Palleares, neglected Mr Ramirez and refused to take his condition seriously over a five month period.

Prisoners claim that Dr.Pallares 'left aside all humanitarian principles and ethical professionalism' by refusing to deal with the severity of Mr Ramirez's condition. She insisted that he was just suffering from a viral flu, despite it being obvious that his condition was worsening and pleas from Mr Ramirez and his fellow detainees that he be allowed to see a specialist.

On September 16th Mr Ramirez finally received a written referral to a specialist but this was never carried out in practice and Mr Ramirez was instead locked back in his cell where his condition worsened. On September 25th political prisoners in the jail embarked on a campaign of civil disobedience, refusing to attend roll call or to return to their cells, in an effort to force the authorities to take the situation seriously.

Three weeks later, after finally being transferred to the 'Ramon Gonzalez Valencia' Hospital in the city of Bucaramanga, Mr Ramirez died. The Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, one of Colombia's oldest human rights NGOs, has joined the prisoners at Giron jail in calling on the government to initiate a full investigation into those who either by deliberate action or neglect were responsible for the death.

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