Protect Patient Rights in Guatemala

Target: Guatemalan Government

Goal: Protect psychiatric patients in Guatemala against abuse and violence committed by guards, police and gang members

An investigation of psychiatric hospitals in Guatemala revealed troubling findings. Disability Rights International, a group dedicated to protecting patient’s rights, conducted an investigation and found that abuse was widespread across the country’s hospitals, especially in Guatemala City. The abuse ranged from denial of medical care and neglect to sex trafficking.

The systematic abuse of patients seemed to be spearheaded by the hospital’s guards, along with gang members who were given access to the hospital through a neighboring prison. In some cases, the national police were involved as well. When the Office of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City investigated the issue, they found that many patients had been given the wrong medication or improper doses. Such errors can easily cost a patient his or her life, especially when drugs are mixed.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has asked the Guatemalan government to take steps to correct the issue. These steps include ending abuse, separating adults from children, and ensuring that patients convicted of violent crimes are in a separate population. They are currently mixed in with the general population and no steps are taken to protect vulnerable patients. While the commission has no official capacity to compel the Guatemalan government, they have requested that the government reports on its progress in one month.

Sign the petition below, and urge the Guatemalan government to follow the steps outlined by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The treatment of psychiatric patients in Guatemala is abhorrent and needs to be corrected immediately.


Dear Guatemalan Government,

Disability Rights International recently conducted an investigation of the psychiatric hospitals in Guatemala. They found widespread abuse across the country, particularly in large metropolitan areas. This abuse was committed by the guards, gang members, and in some cases, even the national police.

Patients in your national hospitals experienced neglect and mistreatment. Many patients were given the wrong medication and in the wrong dosage. Violent offenders were mixed in with the general population, including women and children. These oversights put already vulnerable patients at risk.

I urge you to follow the suggestions outlined by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and correct this severe disregard of patient rights. Psychiatric patients in your country deserve to be well cared for and safe. Hospitals that commit the crimes that were found in Guatemala are not safe for anyone, much less disabled children and adults.


[Your Name Here]

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113 Signatures

  • Lynn Juozilaitis
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