NEWS: Human Rights Abuses of Disabled Children, Adults in Serbia

Posted on 17 November 2007. Filed under: Blind, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights, Mobility Impariments, Multiple Disabilities, News, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |


Embargoed Until November 14th, 2007

Contact: Laurie Ahern – 202.361.1402
Eric Rosenthal – 202.361.9195


Belgrade, Serbia – November 14, 2007 – Following a four year investigation, Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) released its findings today in a report detailing the human rights abuses perpetrated against children and adults in Serbia with disabilities, forced to live out their lives in institutions. Torment not Treatment: Serbia’s Segregation and Abuse of Children and Adults with Disabilities describes children and adults tied to beds or never allowed to leave their cribs – some for years at a time. In addition, filthy conditions, contagious diseases, lack of medical care, rehabilitation and judicial oversight renders placement in a Serbian institution life threatening for both children and adults. The children and adults had a range of disabilities including Downs Syndrome, deafness, visual impairment, autism, and mobility impairments.

“These are Serbia’s most vulnerable citizens. Thousands confined to institutions are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and abuse. Children and adults tied down and restrained over a lifetime is dangerous and painful treatment tantamount to torture – clear violations of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Attorney Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of MDRI and an expert on human rights law.

“We call on the government of Serbia to stop these abuses immediately and to respect the human rights of all people with disabilities,” concluded Rosenthal.

For more information visit, where you can download a copy of the full report in PDF format, videos, and photos. The video footage does not have captions available. As a deaf person, I found that if you read the executive summary of the report and look at some of the photos before viewing the video then most of the images in the video speak for themselves. I’m guessing that there is probably no audio description for blind people; as a sighted deaf person, I’m afraid I’m not in a position to judge how much sense the video will make without it. Readers who are deaf or blind–or who support their interests–may wish to contact MDRI to encourage them to make their video materials available with both captions and audio description.

MDRI is an international human rights and advocacy organization dedicated to the full participation in society of people with mental disabilities worldwide. We Can Do published an earlier press release from MDRI reporting on similar human rights abuses in Argentina; the Argentina report, entitled Ruined Lives, can still be downloaded from the front page of the MDRI web site (scroll down the page). More reports about human rights abuses of people with disabilities in Turkey, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Kosovo, Russia, and Hungary can be downloaded in PDF format from

Most of the text of this blog post comes from the MDRI press release, which can be retrieved at

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3 Responses to “NEWS: Human Rights Abuses of Disabled Children, Adults in Serbia”

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Worry about people in the United States

what other websites are out there also with a good reputation to expose these terrible facts? My strange wife wants to take our 3 year old son who is autistic to Serbia to live and I am opposing this because life in Australia (where my son, my stranged wife and myself live now) is simply much better than what Serbia can offer him particularly since my wife is being treated for a serious form of cancer. I need information and resources to present to the family court in Australia so our son continues a happy, free and safe life in Australia, I do not seek to take my son away from his mother, unlike the wishes of my strange wife, what I want is for my son to have both his parents around for as long as they live in a country that will provide him a better and safer life. Can anyone help with information? Thank you Dr. Drew interviews family who caught trusted caregivers abusing severely autistic son. Caregivers included a medical assistant (Matthew McDuffie) and an RN (Michael Garritson). Makes you wonder who families can trust, when even CNA’s are in the news for abusing patients both in home and in group homes and nursing care facilities. What is going on? Why is there an epidemic of health care professionals abusing disabled and elderly patients in various settings? What happened to taking pride in your job? What has happened to caring, loving commitment to patient safety and care? Are people too lazy and selfish now? Are they too busy with texting their friends, watching movies on lap tops or going on Facebook to be bothered with actually WORKING to help autistic individuals? Autistic people, especially those on the lower side of spectrum need a lot of support. They often require 1:1 care, if not occasional 2:1 care. Not that this EVER excuses a nurse or caregiver from abusing the autistic person, but it reminds us that autism advocates need to take a deeper look into reforming a system that is not supplying families with adequate caregivers who respect human rights, no matter how challenging the situation. We set a very dangerous precedent if we allow people to make excuses for abusing severely disabled people.

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