Serbia: “committed to inclusion” while funding segregation

In Geneva this afternoon a delegation of the Serbian government tried to convince the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that it was “committed to inclusion”. Yesterday in a village called Stamnica, 120km from the capital Belgrade, the Serbian Government opened a new 112-bed building adding to an institution that now has 344 beds. The institution warehouses children and young people with intellectual disabilities. MDAC and MDRI-Serbia call on the Government to abandon plans to maintain this institution, and instead find community-based placements for these children and young people.

Image of Stamnica institution in Serbia. (c) MDRI-SerbiaInside Stamnica institution, Serbia. (c) MDRI-Serbia

Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, has committed 300 million Serbian Dinars (almost 2.5 million Euro) in total, and 66 millions Serbian Dinars (over 500,000 Euro) to increase the capacity of this particular institution. The announcement came just before the delegation of Serbia told the UN that it was encouraging the “development of community-based services” for persons with disabilities – a commitment that meets Serbia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Today, Serbia maintains 6 institutions for children with disabilities and 15 institutions for adults with disabilities housing nearly 6,000 persons with disabilities in the country. In addition it has 5 big psychiatric hospitals with the capacity of 3,000 beds.

Dragana Ciric Milovanovic, Director of MDRI-Serbia, which regularly monitors institutions in the country, provided information to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today. She said:

“As we speak, there is a new institution being officially opened for more than 100 residents in Serbia, with more money flowing in the direction of institutionalisation. Serbia should immediately abolish all forms of segregation of persons with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities and ensure that alternatives to institutionalisation exist by developing community-based services”

“The level of hypocrisy shown by the Serbian Government is staggering,” said Steven Allen – MDAC Campaigns Director who is also in Geneva this week. He added, “the Government should swallow its pride and abandon plans to fill those 112 beds. Instead, it should fund community-based alternatives to institutions, and with civil society, develop an effective national deinstitutionalisation plan.”

Mental Disability Rights Initiative (MDRI-S), an affiliate of Disability Rights International, is an advocacy organisation dedicated to the human rights and full participation in society of children and adults with mental disabilities in Serbia. Further information can be found on their website at You can read their detailed reports to the CRPD Committee here and here.

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