IACHR Press Office
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is saddened by the deaths of at least 19 children in the Mahdia Secondary School female dormitory in Mahdia, Region Eight, Guyana. The Commission extends its sympathies to the victims' families and wishes for the recovery of the survivors and remains available to provide any assistance to the Government of Guyana in accordance with its mandate.
According to available information, the tragic incident claimed the lives of 18 female students aged between 12 and 17, as well as a 5-year-old boy. Among the victims were several children from indigenous communities. Presently, several female students are still receiving medical care at the Georgetown Public Hospital. The Commission notes that preliminary investigations indicate that the fire was deliberately set.
The Commission commends the commitment of the State to provide comprehensive support to the survivors and the families of the victims. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of conducting a thorough investigation to shed light on the circumstances surrounding this tragic event and to hold those responsible accountable. Furthermore, it is crucial to establish mechanisms for reparation to ensure justice for the victims.
The IACHR is fully committed to providing any necessary assistance to the State according to Inter-American human rights standards on the rights of children, in particular regarding the necessary supervision of institutions housing children. Adequate training for staff members in risk prevention and emergency response must be also a priority within these facilities.
The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission is mandated to promote the observance of human rights in the region and to act as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.