Croatia ‘dragging its feet’ on disability rights — Human Rights Watch

Total Croatia News

May 30, 2018 — Croatia has backed out of promises which would let the intellectually and psychosocially disabled live independently, according to a scathing Human Rights Watch report.

Croatia’s Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy said last month it would continue transitioning people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities to community-based living, abandoning a much-maligned habit of keeping them in institutions. The government backed out of its promise in a May 22 letter, according to the Human Rights Watch.

“The ministry said that people with disabilities who need long-term and intensive care will remain in institutions,” the organization wrote. The report chronicles the nation’s allegedly lackluster attempts to follow an international disability rights treaty ratified 10 years ago. “People with psychosocial disabilities in psychiatric hospitals and those in foster care remain excluded from the government’s efforts.”

The Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy as of publication did not respond to requests for comment.

Croatia’s treatment of the disabled has been a lasting black mark on the country’s overall human rights record. HRW similarly called out the government’s supposed in-action several times, reporting “the process of moving people out of institutions and into community-based living arrangements has been limited and slow.”

More than 7,800 of Croatia’s disabled adults and children live in state-run institutions, with another 2,000 in privatly-run, publically-funded facilities, according to HRW. Others are sent to psychiatric hospitals without their consent. Overall, some 18,000 of Croatia’s people with disabilities are under legal guardianship, robbing them of autonomy and a broader community.

“Croatia should mark the 10th anniversary since ratifying the disability rights treaty by making sure that children with disabilities grow up in families and that people with disabilities can live independently in the community with necessary support,” Emina Ćerimović, a disability rights researcher for HRW, said in the report.

Croatia’s government did make some initial efforts, moving 700 people out of institutions and into apartments between 2011 and 2016.

Those early efforts earned the attention of both HRW, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, via The Guardian. The paper chronicled the seemingly-successful efforts of Ladislav Lamza of Osijek’s former asylum, who encouraged the disabled to integrate slowly back into the community.

Since that early push, only 15 more adults transititioned from institutions to indepent living, while 75 children and 21 adults reunited with their biological families.

The Croatian government has since drafted a law which would place adults with disabilities in foster care, instead of trying to transition them to independent living within the community. The practice has been denounced by both the United Nations and Croatia’s own Ombudswoman for Persons with Disabilities.

“While appropriate for children, foster care is not appropriate for adults with disabilities who are placed in a family without any choice or alternative,” Ćerimović told HRW.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states all the disabled should be allowed to lead independent lives integrated into a community, regardless the severity of their condition. The Council of the European Union backed the treaty, calling on all EU members to ensure all citizens an independent life.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment