ABANDONED TO THE STATE
Human Rights Watch
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Copyright © December 1998 by Human Rights Watch.
All Rights Reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 98-88715
Cover photograph © Kate Brooks, 1998. Russian orphans confined to barren day room of Internat X, reaching for candies.
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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. Our reputation for timely, reliable disclosures has made us an essential source of information for those concerned with human rights. We address the human rights practices of governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic and religious persuasions. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law, and a vigorous civil society; we document and denounce murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, discrimination, and other abuses of internationally recognized human rights. Our goal is to hold governments accountable if they transgress the rights of their people.
Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the founding of Helsinki Watch, what is now its Europe and Central Asia division. Today, it also includes divisions covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, it includes three thematic divisions on arms, childrens rights, and womens rights. It maintains offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, London, Brussels, Moscow, Dushanbe, Rio de Janeiro, and Hong Kong. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.
The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Michele Alexander, development director; Reed Brody, advocacy director; Carroll Bogert, communications director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Patrick Minges, publications director; Susan Osnos, associate director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Wilder Tayler, general counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Jonathan Fanton is the chair of the board. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair.
The regional directors of Human Rights Watch are Peter Takirambudde, Africa; José Miguel Vivanco, Americas; Sidney Jones, Asia; Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia; and Hanny Megally, Middle East and North Africa. The thematic division directors are Joost R. Hiltermann, arms; Lois Whitman, childrens rights; and Regan Ralph, womens rights.
The members of the board of directors are Jonathan Fanton, chair; Lisa Anderson, Robert L. Bernstein, William Carmichael, Dorothy Cullman, Gina Despres, Irene Diamond, Adrian W. DeWind, Fiona Druckenmiller, Edith Everett, James C. Goodale, Jack Greenberg, Vartan Gregorian, Alice H. Henkin, Stephen L. Kass, Marina Pinto Kaufman, Bruce Klatsky, Harold Hongju Koh, Alexander MacGregor, Josh Mailman, Samuel K. Murumba, Andrew Nathan, Jane Olson, Peter Osnos, Kathleen Peratis, Bruce Rabb, Sigrid Rausing, Anita Roddick, Orville Schell, Sid Sheinberg, Gary G. Sick, Malcolm Smith, Domna Stanton, Maureen White, and Maya Wiley. Robert L. Bernstein is the founding chair of Human Rights Watch.
This is a joint report by two divisions of Human Rights Watch: the Children's Rights and the Europe and Central Asia Divisions. It was researched and written by Kathleen Hunt, a consultant to Human Rights Watch, who as a journalist investigated the orphanages in post-Ceausescu Romania for the New York Times Sunday Magazine and covered the break-up of the Soviet Union from 19911994 for National Public Radio.
The bulk of the investigation was conducted by Ms. Hunt in Russia, from February 10 to March 9, 1998. Considerable preparatory research was undertaken during January, and follow-up since her return from Russia. The Human Rights Watch Moscow office provided invaluable research and administrative backup throughout this period, and we are particularly grateful to Lyuda Alpern for her full-time assistance.
The report was edited by Lois Whitman from the Children's Rights Division and Rachel Denber of the Europe and Central Asia Division. Michael McClintock, deputy program director and Dinah PoKempner, deputy general counsel, provided additional comments on the manuscript, and Shalu Rozario of the Children's Rights Division and Alex Frangos of the Europe and Central Asia Division provided production assistance.
It is a pity that a vise of secrecy and fear, reminiscent of Soviet times, has tightened around the isolated world of Russia's state orphanages. Many dedicated orphanage staff and foreign volunteers begged us not to reveal their names, or the institutions in which they worked. Russian workers, they said, would be fired for talking to an outsider. Foreign charity workers would be expelled from the institutions and the doors slammed on humanitarian assistance. This would further isolate the system which they felt a desperate need to improve. We have respected these requests.
This report, nevertheless, would not have been possible without the assistance of many who did take the risk to share what they knew about state-run institutions for abandoned children. Of those in Moscow who wish to be named, we especially thank Sergei Koloskov, father of a Down syndrome child and president of the Down Syndrome Association for families with Down syndrome children, Sarah Philips, a former volunteer with the charity organization Action for Russias Children, and Boris Altshuler, Lyubov Kushnir and Lyudmilla Alexeeva of Rights of the Child, Russia's leading nongovernmental organization dedicated to defending children's rights.
Also in Moscow, we wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Anatoly Severny, of the Independent Association of Child Psychiatrists and Psychologists, Marina Rodman, and Sergei A. Levin. Olga Alexeeva of Charities Aid Foundation shared her expertise and the bounty of her research archives, and Karina A. Moskalenko provided invaluable help with our legal research. Further information and insightswere provided by Equilibre, Médécins sans Frontières, and Alexander Ogorodnikov, who runs an independent shelter for runaway children.
Several translators labored over the raft of legal documentation assembled, and assisted with lengthy interviews with orphans. We especially thank Lena Sheveleva, Irina Savelyeva, Tanya Morschakova, Maria Armand, and Alexander Bogdanov.
On our two missions outside of Moscow, Human Rights Watch was generously assisted in St. Petersburg by Médécins du Monde/Doctors of the World; Alexander Rodin, a former deputy in the city council and now independent advocate for children in orphanages, juvenile detention, and the streets; and Alexander Bogdanov, who assisted in the research gathered from a group of teenaged orphans. Our research outside of Moscow would not have been possible without the help of Eduard A. Alexeyev. Further thanks go to Doctor Mikhail M. Airumyan, president of the independent Russian Association of Baby Houses, and Dr. Olga Y. Vassilieva, deputy director of one Russian baby house in a region north of Moscow.
Across the vast territory of the Russian Federation, we would like to extend our appreciation for the time given by dozens of people whom we interviewed extensively by telephone, gathering background information on institutions in rural and remote regions. There are far too many to mention here, but we especially wish to thank Vera Strebizh of Shans, a children's rights group, and Anna Pastukhova of Memorial Society, both of Ekaterinburg.
For the photographs in this report, we are deeply grateful to freelance photographer Kate Brooks, Sergei Koloskov, Natasha Fairweather, and to the British company Independent Television News for permitting us to view the tape of their cameramans visit to a shocking psychoneurological internat. Valuable background information was provided by other journalists, including Zoya Trounova, and Sam Hutchinson, who described the inhuman conditions in the orphanages they had visited during the past two years.
Finally, our heartfelt thanks go to the many Russian orphans who talked freely with us. To protect their privacy, the names of all children in this report have been changed as indicated in the footnotes. Our sincerest hopes go to those who spoke with us as well as to those who are too young, or too neglected, to have yet learned to speak. We call on the international community to hasten the day when they can unlock their minds and develop their full human potential.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS xi
I. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1
Abandoned Children as an Underclass 3
Failure to Live Up to National Commitments 5
Failure to Comply with International Obligations 7
To the Russian Government 10
On reducing the number of children consigned to state institutions: 10
On the matter of discriminatory status 11
On the matter of punishment, abuse and deplorable conditions 13
On the right to health care 14
On reforming the management and treatment of orphans 14
To the United Nations 15
To the Council of Europe 16
To Donor Governments 16
To Nongovernmental Organizations 17
II. THE ODYSSEY OF A RUSSIAN ORPHAN 18
Archipelago of closed institutions 20
Odyssey of a child 25
Type 1: Best prospects for a child abandoned at birth and healthy 25
Type 2: Worst prospects for a child abandoned at birth and disabled 27
Variations on these cases 28
Prejudice against orphans: a legacy of ignorance and fear 29
Fear to expose the truth 31
III. RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL AND RUSSIAN LAWS 33
Abandonment and Disability as a Basis for Invidious Discrimination 33
The Decision to Institutionalize The Child 36
The right to a family 36
Arbitrary deprivation of liberty 37
The childs right to development 39
The right to life 40
The right to health 40
The right to education 42
Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and torture 44
Physical Abuse 45
Psychological Abuse 46
Grievance procedures 47
Specific standards applicable to children with mental or physical disabilities 48
Russian Law 51
IV. THE GILDED CAGE OF THE DOM REBYONKA:INFANCY TO FOUR YEARS 57
Lying-down roomsgross neglect of infants with disabilities 57
Compounding a stigma with multiple diagnoses 58
Debilitating effects of institutional deprivation 61
Orphans denied personal possessions 64
The abuse of sedative drugs 65
Discrimination against orphan babies requiring medical care 66
Rationale of budget and staff limitations 68
V. THE POINT OF NO RETURN:DIAGNOSIS AT AGE FOUR 71
Introduction to Russia's Psychological-Medical-Pedagogical Commission 72
A hazardous turning point: intimidation, inappropriateness and error 75
Inappropriateness of the test 77
Justice denied: the right to appeal diagnosis 78
Intimidation in front of the Psychological-Medical-Pedagogical Commission 80
Ruined lives: misdiagnoses by the commission 82
VI. CHILDHOOD DOOMED:PSYCHONEUROLOGICAL INTERNATY 89
Human Rights Watch site visit to Internat X 90
The Lying-Down Room 91
Confinement in a dark room 94
Education denied 96
"Smart" Orphans 96
"Dumb" Orphans 98
Unmarked graves and abuse of authority 99
Discovery of Internat Y 100
WORKER No.1: 102
WORKER No. 2: 103
Internat Z 105
General observations on abuses of orphans classed as imbetsily and idioty 106
Malign neglect of medical needs 106
Excessive use of strong drugs 108
VII. THE DYETSKII DOM:TRUNCATED LIVES AND GRATUITOUS CRUELTY 109
Corporal punishment by orphanage director and staff 114
Isolation in a frigid room 117
Corporal punishment sharpened by public shaming 118
Kiril V.s Story 118
"Collective Punishment" 120
Punishment-by-proxy and vicious hazing 122
Psychiatric hospital as punishment 125
Corruption, abuse of authority, and alleged crime 128
Grievances and impunity 130
The financial interest in orphanages 131
VIII. PROGRESS AND IMPEDIMENTS IN ENSURING ORPHANS' RIGHTS 134
Skeletons come back to life 134
A remarkable intervention 135
Showing the pictures at Internat X 136
Other progress 137
Russian government reaction to critics 139
High risk for Russian orphans 140
IX. CONCLUSION 144
APPENDIX A. INTERNATIONAL LAW 146
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child 146
Excerpts from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 169
Excerpts from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 172
United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty 175
Principles for the Protection of Persons With Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care 192
Excerpts from the Principles of Medical Ethics Relevant to the Role of Health Personnel 207
APPENDIX B. RUSSIAN LAW 208
APPENDIX C. COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, COMMENTS ON THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION 209
APPENDIX D. FLOW CHART: LIFE OF AN ORPHAN IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION 1998 214