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Sunday 20 October 2019
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IDC detainee attempts suicide

Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine 
Gandhi-Andrews.
Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews.

A GUYANESE man held at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Aripo attempted suicide on Monday evening after mounting frustration over being kept in solitary confinement.

The man (name given) was one of five who escaped from the IDC last December. He was recaptured and sentenced to a month in prison, and was returned to the centre two weeks ago.

Another detainee, who spoke with Newsday yesterday on condition of anonymity, said the man tried to take his life using tow different methods. The other detainees alerted the guards, who took him to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, where he was still warded late yesterday evening.

"Since he came back he was treated differently. The guards were told to keep him on lockdown, which is not the usual treatment for detainees. We sleep in dormitories and when they open the doors at 8 am we are free to move around the TV room and within the centre. At 3 pm they take us outside so we could get some fresh air," said the other detainee.

"They would take him out of his room for about an hour and lock him back up again.

"He has already served his time for escaping. Immigration is not a place for punishment, but for processing...we are to be processed for deportation of voluntary departure. The centre here does not follow due process and does not adhere to human-rights standards."

He said the Guyanese man was able to access bleach from the bathroom as the detainees were the ones who cleaned the centre.

He said the five escaped last year through the roof in the TV room and the roof still has not been repaired. He also claimed two Venezuelans escaped two weeks ago, but this was being kept quiet by the authorities. "Immigration is keeping that quiet because they are ashamed to talk.

"We believe we are collateral damage." He said the guards were unhappy with senior management in the Immigration Department and Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandi-Andrews had not visited for almost a year.

The detainees want to go back to their countries, to their families and their children, but they were being kept without due process, he complained.

"There is no justice. This has become a house of abuse and human-rights infringements. It has now become an asylum and refugee haven for the Venezuelans. United Nations has come down hard on the way Government is treating with the Venezuelans so they dealing with them

"We just want a ticket to go home. We are Caricom citizens and we are treated like we are nobody. We are here because we overstayed our time, we did not commit any crime."

Contacted yesterday, Gandhi-Andrews said she was only told a detainee had threatened suicide and as far as she knew, he was taken to hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

"I am awaiting a final report from the centre manager and arrangements are being made for his repatriation," she said. "As to me visiting not visiting the IDC, that is not an issue, because I get reports from the officers stationed there."

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