On 3 September 2019, the Center for Legal Resources (CLR) and Tonal Association launched an urgent call for action, following a very serious situation identified at the Sighetu Marmației Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities and at the Sighetu Marmației Municipal Hospital Men’s Psychiatry Ward in Maramureș county, Romania.
The situations identified by the Center for Legal Resources and Tonal Association constitute violations of fundamental human rights.
At the Sighetu Marmației Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities (in the courtyard of the Municipal Hospital):
- Eight persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities were locked in five cages; the cages are approximately 2.5 m high, with metal frames and transparent plexiglass;
- Three persons were tied with shirts and strips of cloth;
- The sewage was being discharged behind the building, on the ground – there was a pestilential smell of feces in the courtyard where the beneficiaries should spend time outdoors;
- There was no specialized personnel and the only staff who could carry out activities with the 30 beneficiaries of the center were a nurse and three orderlies;
- The only information available on the ground was exclusively of medical nature; the plans for psycho-social intervention were not presented.
At the Men’s Psychiatry Section I at the Sighetu Marmației Municipal Hospital:
- Unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, lack of specialized staff, serious under-financing;
- Situations presenting a high risk of injury, self-harm and aggression;
- Major procedural difficulties in the hospitalization of patients, regarding the ambulance service;
- Exclusively chemical therapy (without psychotherapeutic programs);
- Difficulties in managing involuntary admissions;
- Discrimination based on diagnostic criteria leading to the overcrowding of the Sighetu Marmației psychiatric sections with the most difficult cases in Maramureș.
Since 2017, when the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice terminated its’ collaboration protocol with the CLR, NGOs have not had official independent access in psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric wards, in centers for neuropsychiatric recovery and rehabilitation for adults with disabilities, in centers for care and assistance, centers for integration and occupational therapy, in placement centers for children with and without disabilities, in family-type homes or sheltered housing units. The Monitoring Council for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has refused to facilitate independent access to NGOs in closed mental health institutions, in contradiction with art. 33 para. 3 of the CRPD and with national legal provisionsi. Evenmore, in March 2019, the Ministry of Health revoked CLR’s access authorization, only two weeks after it had been initially issued. The legal provisions regarding the authorization granted for visits to NGO representatives in health unitsii are in conflict with provisionsiii of the Mental Health Law, as access to institutions for monitoring visits is made conditional by the approval of the health unit manager.
Given the facts described above, we hereby re-emphasize the importance of independent access of NGOs in residential institutions for children and adults with disabilities for the purpose of detecting and reporting of suspected cases of abuse and neglect.
We are witnessing a serious situation, a situation that remains frozen in time, in the past, which violates all international human rights treaties: the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its’ Optional Protocol, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Oviedo Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.
The Center for Legal Resources and Tonal Association have requested the emergency intervention of the Minister of Health, Mrs. Sorina Pintea, the president of the Monitoring Council for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Florinel Butnaru, the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture established under the subordination of the Ombudsman, Mrs. Magda Stefanescu, the County Council president, Mr. Gabriel Valer Zetea, of the County Agency for Payments and Social Inspection Maramureș and the director of the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection, Mrs. Alina Coste Mădăraș.
On 6 September 2019, the Maramureș County Agency for Payments and Social Inspection (AJPIS) informed the Center for Legal Resources that the beneficiaries within the Sighetu Marmaţiei Municipal Hospital (the C17 neurology pavilion) have been relocated, following a visit carried out by the social inspection control team.
According to information provided by the AJPIS, the visit was finalized through a control act brought to the attention of the Maramureș Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection management, and an informative note brought to the attention of the higher structures, documents which the Center for Legal Resources has requested based on Law no. 544/2001 regarding access to information of public interest.
For more information:
Center for Legal Resources, Georgiana Pascu, Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0729881159;
Tonal Association, Mugur Frățilă, psychologist, Chairman of the Board of Directors, email@example.com, 0744248489.
More information on the monitoring and reporting activity of the Center for Legal Resources:
Harta Deceselor în spitalele de psihiatrie, centrele de plasament și centrele de protecție a persoanelor cu dizabilități
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: https://www.crj.ro/ultima-decizie-a-comitetului-de-ministri-cu-privire-la-executarea-hotararii-cedo-in-speta-valentin-campeanu/
i Article 4 i) of Law no. 8/2016 regarding the establishment of mechanisms under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which foresees as one of the attributions of the Monitoring Council „facilitating the access, announced or unannounced, of non-governmental organizations representatives […] in the institutions […] in order to monitor the observance of their rights; to ensure that persons with disabilities have independent representation before a court or in front of any other independent body, non-governmental organizations referred to above have an active legal standing to defend the legitimate rights and interests of these persons;”
ii Annex 6 of Order no. 488/2016 for the approval of the application norms for the Law no. 487/2002 regarding mental health and the protection of persons with mental disabilities, concerning the authorization granted for visits carried out by representatives of the non-governmental organizations in health units: „The authorization is valid only during the periodof time for which the request was made, accompanied by the approval of the health unit manager or his substitute’s approval, and previously approved by the attending physician, who will assess the opportunity of the visit from a clinical perspective”
iii Article 47 of the Mental Health Law: „(1) Representatives of non-governmental organizations conducting activities in the field of mental health or human rights protection may visit psychiatric units or recovery and rehabilitation centers and may contact patients, based on an authorization issued by the director of the National Center for Mental Health and Fight against Drugs. (2) The authorization provided in para. (1) is issued nominally for the representatives of each nongovernmental organization and allows free access in all psychiatric units and in recovery and rehabilitation centers for one year from its issuance date.”