Gov’t to amend law which imposes jail sentence for persons who attempt suicide

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The Ministry of Health is looking to amend the Criminal Law Offences Act Chapter 8:01 (97) which imposes jail time for persons who attempt suicide, subject minister, Dr Frank Anthony revealed on Tuesday.

In his daily briefing with the Department of Public Information (DPI), Dr Anthony emphasised that such “punitive measures” should not be allowed in modern society.

The current law states that: “Everyone who attempts to commit suicide shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.”

“I think the offence carries with it a penalty to be jailed and therefore, we believe and in the modern-day dealing with psychiatry and so forth, that you shouldn’t have these types of punitive measures. What you should do is to be able to offer that person help and, therefore, prison will not be the place for them.

“That particular piece of legislation would need some form of amendment so as to change what is currently on the books,” Dr Anthony said.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister further revealed that other pieces of legislation are outdated, some even dating back to the 1930s and 1950s. These legislation, he said, has no relevance in today’s world.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony

“For example, we have an Antibiotic Act and the antibiotics that are mentioned in there are no longer in use, so we want to develop a Pharmaceutical Act that will look at the current type of medications that are in use so that is one piece of legislation that we are looking at,” the minister explained.

The Public Health Ordinance Act and the Medical Practitioners Act are among 19 other pieces of legislation, which were submitted to the Attorney General’s Chambers, with recommendations to address modern health issues.

As it relates to the Medical Practitioners Act, Dr Anthony explained that the Medical Council of Guyana specifically requested that it allows for the registration of specialised medical services.

Additionally, among the list of new legislation that was submitted, is a framework to deal with human to human transplantation and the emergency medical service.

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