Weak Legal Protection For Persons With Mental Disabilities

In cooperation with Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Tortured Victims (KRCT), Civil Rights Defenders is conducting a comprehensive monitoring of institutions for persons with mental disabilities in Kosovo. Small improvements of the living conditions have been observed during the year but large structural problems still remain.

Persons with mental disabilities and – illness who lives in institutions in Kosovo are regularly getting their civil and political rights violated. A reason for this is, is the assigned legal guardians failure to represent and protect the resident’s rights. This has led to grave consequences in which the resident’s right to inheritance and to vote has been violated. During a roundtable discussion held on 12 October, in connection with the World Mental Health Day two days earlier, this problem became focus for the talk.

A large number of lawyers, judges, officials from mental health institutions and Ministries, participated in the discussion which led to the following two conclusions:

  • There is a need to adopt laws that define standards of treatment of persons with mental disabilities in these institutions.
  • The coordination between relevant institutions that can contribute to the improvement of living conditions and legal status of the residents must be improved.

The comprehensive monitoring that KRCT is conducting in cooperation with Civil Rights Defenders aims at assessing the respect of human rights for people with mental disabilities and improving the conditions and treatment (in accordance with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture standards). Besides the above-mentioned problems the study also shows that persons with mental disabilities face difficulties reintegrating into society. Extensive discrimination and stigmatization are further leading to their social marginalization.

By the end of the year KRCT and Civil Rights Defenders will publish a report on the Human Rights Situation in Mental Health Facilities in Kosovo for 2012.

After the roundtable with the aim of raising awareness about persons with disabilities, KRCT organized an exhibition where handcrafted art made by persons with mental disabilities were displayed. All income from sale will be used for creative purposes of residents. Photo: KRCT