Demanding report into UHWI babies' deaths
MARC FRANCIS RAMSAY
Marc Francis Ramsay & Company
This is an open letter to the Office of the Public Defender.
We act for, and on behalf of, Ms Malissa Bryan, the mother and next friend of Maheir Jabari Hearne (deceased); Ms Danielle L.P. McKenzie, the mother and next friend of Dimitri A. Penglas-Spencer (deceased); and Shaneika Gordon, the mother and next friend of Kaishawn Daniel Bryan (deceased).
We write to inquire about the status of the report of your investigation into the death of our clients' and 15 other babies at the neonatal intensive care unit at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) between August and October 2015.
You will recall that your investigation was launched in October 2015 and, to date, almost nine months later, we have still not received a report, or any form of correspondence, indicating the findings of the investigation. You will also recall that the board of management of the UHWI issued a press release titled 'Statement from the University of the West Indies' on October 24, 2015, which stated: (i) "At a meeting of the UHWI board of management on Wednesday, October 21st at 2 p.m., the board recognised a breach in the MOH/UHWI reporting protocol", and (ii) "The chairman of the board of management has mandated that a detailed report on the breach of protocols be delivered to him by midday on Thursday, October 22, 2015".
Our clients were made to relive the traumatic experience during the investigation and to date have not received any closure or insight into the circumstances that led to the deaths of their babies.
Serious allegations have been raised, and indeed, evidence has been revealed that the UHWI was negligent and that such negligence amounted to a breach of our clients' constitutional rights. These rights include the right to life in Section 13(3)(h) of the Jamaican Constitution the right to humane treatment in Section 13(3)(o) and Section 13(3)(k)(i), which guarantees children special rights as minors. There have also been breaches of international law obligations concerning the standard of health care for children, specifically Articles 6, 24(1)&(2) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified in 1991.
Our clients continue to grieve, and we believe it would be in the interest of justice and transparency for a report to be produced and made public as soon as possible.