DAA News Network

Croatia: Disabled people imprisoned as deinstitutionalisation fails

Posted 25/9-10 at 17.05

Human Rights Watch has just released a report entitled, "Once You Enter, You Never Leave". This is a searing indictment of the failure of the state to free disabled people from institutions in the country.

Although the government has promised to move people out of institutions and support them in the community, rather than shrinking, institutional provision is increasing. It is also clear from many reports that these places are hotbeds of systematic human rights abuse.

Between 70 and 100 percent of residents of some institutions for persons with intellectual or mental impairments are put there without their consent or the opportunity to challenge the decision. Furthermore, once they are admitted most remain there for the rest of their lives. All this has happened despite the fact that Croatia has ratified the CRPD that says disabled people should have the right to live as equal citizens within the community. The apparent refusal to close institutions also goes against a 2006 agreement with the European Commission to end the practice of institutional segregation.

The responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lays primarily with Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, which has yet to create a plan for deinstitutionalization, let alone take concrete steps to move disabled people out of institutions and into community-based support programs.

Croatia is not alone in letting down disabled people in this way. The former Yugoslav republics of Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo have also faced similar criticism from the UN Human Rights Council.






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