To the Minister of Labor, Family, Social Protection and Elderly,
Dear Madam Minister Rovana Plumb,
In the context of which we have all found out from the media in the past days that in a residential center from Bucharest a child with disabilities was tied with a rope, and considering your statements from 3rd of June 2015, that “we’re beginning the process of deinstitutionalization of the 17.000 people with disabilities living in residential centers”, as quoted on Mediafax here http://www.mediafax.ro/social/plumb-centrele-pentru-persoanele-cu-dizabilitati-nu-vor-mai-fi-finantate-14400787, we wish to express the following concerns:
1. The child about whose case the media has related in the past few days (http://www.realitatea.net/copii-maltratati-in-centrul-de-plasament-legati-cu-funia-de-gard-in-soare_1744704.html) is a “beneficiary” of the deinstitutionalization process in Romania, meaning he “enjoys” services in an institution with a small number of beneficiaries (10-12), situated inside the community. It sounds ironic, but this shows the actual standard of the public services for institutionalized children and adults in Romania! After these current standards and practices in these institutions, that child is one of the “lucky” ones, and enjoys living conditions “better than he would in my own home” (to quote from the statement of an administrator of such a center in Bihor County)!
Moreover, this abuse happened in the courtyard and was noticed by a neighbor who sent the images to the press. Where there are no neighbors (as is in the majority of cases), who could see and report these cases? But when abuses happen inside the buildings of the institutions, again as it happens in the majority of cases?
2. If such an incident is possible and it stirs such emotions and revolt in the public opinion, what can we say about other, numerous cases, some of them really serious that are mentioned in the CLR – Centre for Legal Resources’ reports well known at the highest level of the Ministry and that have not determined ANY PUBLIC REACTION from the Government’s part so far?
We recommend you to check CLR’s website www.crj.ro for the map of the deceased in psychiatry and social care institutions between 2011 and 2014 that reveals 1.500 deaths in just half of the country, and take this opportunity to read the reports published there: https://www.crj.ro/pledoarie-pentru-demnitate/lagarele-de-langa-tine-descrierea-proiectului/rapoarte-de-monitorizare/
3. We welcome the “political will” of “assuming the start of a quality structural reform that is centered on the person with disabilities.” We also welcome the announced change of principles “that worked so far, those that use institutions, systems for modern, European policies, that use new principles like community, care and normality.” However, we remind you that the first version of the Strategy regarding people with disabilities for 2014-2020 has been vocally rejected by NGOs precisely because it did not respond to these kinds of needs, while the second version of the Strategy eventually agreed lies still unadopted by the Romanian Government and for months now is “lost” within the inter-Ministry approval system, after a year and a half since it should have already been in course of implementation.
4. Nevertheless, we remind you that several NGOs have repeatedly manifested their reserves regarding the change in the accreditation and licensing system of social services generated by the coming into force of 197/2012 Law regarding the quality of social services, as well as regarding the efficiency and efficacy of implementing the minimum quality Standards for accrediting social services destined for people with disabilities, approved through the Order 67/2015. Our objections, suggestions and proposed solutions have not been taken into account, so now we have again a transition system, where only 57 social services are licensed throughout the whole country by the new law, compared to 6000 social services by the previous law. (http://www.mmuncii.ro/j33/index.php/ro/politici-familiale-incluziune-si-asistenta-sociala)
For deinstitutionalization the political will is insufficient! Where is the FUNCTIONAL social services system for people with disabilities (acc. to point no. 4)? Where is the implementation STRATEGY of the UN Convention regarding the rights of people with disabilities ratified by Romania since 2010 (acc. to point no. 3)? Where are the correct MONITORING and ANALYSIS of the current system to serve as basis for elaborating the Deinstitutionalization Plan stipulated, otherwise, in the still unadopted Strategy (acc. to point no. 2)? And last but not least, where are the alternative services in the community (professionally monitored and financed regardless whether they’re public or private) to enable the deinstitutionalization as the last step of a whole process?
As long as we won’t have a real answer to these questions and until the Ministry will have a body of professionals capable of building functional systems at a national level and to take solid reforms in the social services field, neither the advanced legislative framework, nor the political will are sufficient to really change the situation especially of institutionalized persons with disabilities, and for persons with disabilities in general.
EASPD Vicepresident (www.easpd.eu) – European Association Of Service Providers For Persons With Disabilities
Dizabnet Coordinator (www.disabnet.ro) – Rețeaua Prestatorilor pentru Persoane cu Dizabilități din România
CLR team member (www.crj.ro ) in monitoring institutions for persons with disabilities
M: +40-723686434, T: +40-265257057 (L-V, 6-21), E: firstname.lastname@example.org, FB&Twitter: Andreia Moraru
CLR Executive Director (www.crj.ro ) – Centre for Legal Resources
M: +40-722505181, T: +40-212120690, E: email@example.com
FDSC Executiv Director (www.fdsc.ro) – Civil Society Development Foundation
M: +40-7252444300, T: +40-213100181, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ovidiu Vanghele, journalist
CIM President (www.investigatiimedia.ro) – Center for Media Investigations
M: +40-766532408, E: email@example.com
*Photo: (c) EVZ / www.evz.ro