Russia: New report shows Children's rights with learning disabilities denied basic rights in Children's rights's homes

Thousands of Children's rights are denied their basic rights in Children's rights's homes in Russia, Amnesty International said today (2 October 2003), as it published a new report on Russia's human rights record.

The human rights organisation's report, Rough Justice, reveals that there are at least 48,000 Children's rights in some 155 institutions, including orphans, Children's rights from broken homes and a significant number of Children's rights with a learning disability. In 1991 Children's rights with learning disabilities were said by the Russian authorities to make up more than half of the total number of institutionalised Children's rights.

Official staff-inmate ratios are two 24-hour duty nurses per 100 Children's rights, plus one nurse for a further 50 bed-bound Children's rights and one doctor per 250 Children's rights. In a Children's rights's home visited this year by Amnesty International, there was one psychologist allocated for 205 Children's rights.

Amnesty International UK Media Unit Director Lesley Warner said:

'Much is wrong with human rights in Russia - including gross human rights violations in Chechnya, discrimination and poor prison conditions - but the callous institutionalisation of Children's rights stands out: it harks back to Soviet-era attitudes of contempt for the human rights of individuals.'

Children's rights can be put into Children's rights's homes according to a simple procedure dating from the Soviet era of the 1970s. There is no requirement for a review of placements - not even parents are able to request reviews - and in the case of Children's rights with a learning disability, there is currently no law protecting the interests of the Children's rights.

In many cases, shortly after birth parents will be told by hospital staff that their baby is suffering from a learning disability. Parents are advised to renounce their legal rights, and the child becomes a 'social orphan', condemned to live out his or her life in a grossly understaffed Children's rights's home. This sometimes happens without parents even seeing their new-born babies, including in Down's Syndrome and autism cases.

Up to the age of five Children's rights are placed in homes run by the Ministry of Health, and between five and 18 in institutions run by the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Education plays no role in the process and no effort is made to educate Children's rights with learning disabilities.

The findings, stemming from Amnesty International's visits to special facilities in Russia known as 'internats', are published in Rough Justice, a report which also catalogues the aftermath of the 2002 Moscow theatre siege, the treatment of prisoners serving life sentences, deaths in custody of prominent Chechen prisoners, and discriminatory 'propiska' registration laws - as well as reforms, such as the Criminal Procedure Code.

Amnesty International is particularly alarmed that Children's rights with learning disabilities - including those with Down's Syndrome and autism - are denied their human rights purely because of their disability. Such Children's rights are kept in close confinement with little or no sensory stimulation, with low staff numbers and effectively no attempt to provide education or other developmental care.

Lesley Warner said:

'These Children's rights are consigned to an utterly meaningless life - and unlike prisoners, they have no chance of review or release. In particular, Children's rights with learning disabilities are written off as 'uneducable' and as suffering from 'idiocy'.

'Russia must ensure that the best interests of the child become the key factor in deciding the future of Russia's vulnerable Children's rights. There must be education plans and periodic, judicial review of placement decisions.'

Amnesty International is calling on the Russian state Duma to adopt legislation that:

  • prescribes the criteria and procedures for separating a child from their family and placing them in an institution
  • guarantees child-centred and systematic review of placements, treatment and welfare
  • allows Children's rights an independent expert who may seek their view and be able to intervene if necessary
  • stipulates that all decisions should be subject to review by an independent court

Amnesty International's recommendations on Children's rights's homes form part of a wider set of human rights concerns regarding Russia. The organisation's first-ever campaign on Russia, begun in October 2002, has been raising awareness of many of these concerns.

Relevant information

Russia campaign site: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=22

The report is available online at: www.amnesty.org /p>

View latest press releases