Current situation

On 14 April 2013 Croatian citizens voted for the first time for 12 Members of the European Parliament, in preparation for accession to the European Union on 1 July 2013. This is the first election where people under guardianship could vote, thanks to a legal change in December 2012.

In particular, deinstitutionalisation and the right to live in the community was identified as an important step in ensuring increased accessibility and improved quality of services to persons with disabilities, including those in psychiatric institutions. As stated in the document, “[t]he goal is for [mental health service] users to receive services in their homes and local communities thus creating conditions for integration and rehabilitation within the community itself.”  The Memorandum astutely highlights that “legal provisions aimed at deinstitutionalisation of social services are not sufficient; what is needed is a strong support from the state and a different social climate where a new concept of social services and their providers will be realized.”

Unfortunately, despite the government’s publication of a deinstitutionalisation plan in March 2011, and designation of the People’s Ombudsman as the National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) responsible for monitoring places of detention under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, Croatia has made little progress in realizing these objectives.

MDAC activities

Research and Monitoring: In October 2011 MDAC launched the publication “Out of Sight: Human Rights in Psychiatric Hospitals and Social Care Institutions in Croatia”.  The report (available in Croatian and English) was prepared in partnership with The Association for Social Affirmation of People with Mental Disabilities (SHINE), and presents the findings of human rights monitoring visits made to four psychiatric hospitals and four social care institutions in June 2010.

Advocacy: Following this report MDAC is pursing advocacy domestically as well as at the UN and EU levels focusing on the right of people with disabilities to live in the community and to retain and exercise their legal capacity on an equal basis with others. 

In September 2009, MDAC submitted Shadow Report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by Croatia for consideration by the United Nations Human Rights Committee at its 97th Session. You can read the Shadow Report here.

In October 2009, The UN Human Rights Committee issued its Concluding Observations. Despite the shortcoming in Croatia’s Concluding Observations, the HRC did highlight one of MDAC’s concerns and was strong in condemning Croatia’s use of cage beds in children’s social care institutions. The Committee recalled that this practice constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Articles 7, 9, and 10 of the Covenant and urged Croatia to take immediate measures to abolish their use in psychiatric and related institutions. Cage beds are familiar to the Committee: in 2003 they condemned their use in Slovakia and in 2007 in the Czech Republic.


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