Belgrade, Serbia, June 24, 2021 – Disability Rights International and Mental Disability Rights initiative of Serbia released a report today, Forgotten Children of Serbia, documenting that Serbia has failed to address severe human rights violations and abuses in its institutions that constitute inhuman and degrading treatment – and in some cases amount to torture. In all the institutions we visited, regardless of their size, DRI and MDRI-S found severe neglect and lack of medical care that put the health and lives of children with disabilities at risk.
“Placing infants and young children with disabilities in institutions is inexcusable, “ said Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of DRI, “And denying essential medical care and pain relief is nothing less than torture,“ added Rosenthal. “The government of Serbia is literally throwing away the lives of children with disabilities.“
Children with disabilities continue to linger in institutions across the country, forgotten and excluded from society. The small number of children with disabilities have been simply moved from the most abusive institutions to smaller facilities where they continue to languish without the love or care of families. The placement in Serbia’s residential facilities, large and small, is emotionally and physically dangerous for children and is likely to result in increased disability.
“Unless Serbia takes immediate action to prevent further institutionalization, children will continue to live and die in institutions,” said Dragana Ciric Milovanovic, Europe Program Director of DRI. “Serbia has an immediate obligation to use all available resources to support families and services in the community, instead of large or small institutions,” said Ciric Milovanovic.