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At the peak of the Covid-19 infections, on April 30, the Serbian government published data that 574 people living in residential care institutions, including those for people with disabilities, had been infected with the virus. More recent numbers…
A room in the Veternik Institution for children and adults with disabilities where 540 persons, including children with disabilities live. Up to eight people live in one room. © 2015 Emina Ćerimović for Human Rights Watch
News
As children across Serbia enjoy their summer break, for some children the next school year can’t start soon enough. It may be their first chance to get an education. The Serbian government formally pledged in June that all children with…
Marina  [pseudonym], a 4-year-old girl with developmental disabilities who spent ten months of her life in an institution, with her foster sister. © 2015 Jasenko Rasol for Human Rights Watch
News

The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

  Western Balkan and European Union leaders meet in London this week for a summit that could be a chance to revive stalled reforms and focus attention on critical issues. Unfortunately, there is every chance it will turn out to be full of hot…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
News
The day I met Julija she was playing cheerfully with her baby sister on the floor inside their room in Kragujevac, a small town in southern Serbia. When she saw me – a stranger — on the doorstep, she smiled widely and stretched out her hands, offering a…
Julija Čuković, who spent ten months of her life in an institution, at home in Kragujevac with her parents, where she enjoys to play with her younger sister, also in the photo. © 2016 Zoran Stamenković
News

Long Journey Home for Baby With Disabilities

At her local church in Yerevan, Armenia, Siranush lit a candle and prayed that her daughter would survive the night. Lusine, 22, was hovering between life and death in a nearby hospital after a terrible car crash. As Siranush pleaded for her daughter’s…
Armenia Orphanage Witness - Meri 1
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I walked into a dimly lit, windowless room and saw “Anur,” who was struggling to stand up in the fenced area where he was confined. Other children with disabilities in the institutions I’ve visited were in rooms with as many as 10 children, with cribs…
News
The day Julija was born should have been a day of celebration for Jasmina and Ivica Čuković, a Serbian couple, who had tried for years to have a baby. But the events following their daughter’s birth in a public hospital in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, left…
Julija Čuković, who spent ten months of her life in an institution, at home in Kragujevac with her parents, where she enjoys to play with her younger sister, also in the photo. © 2016 Zoran Stamenković
News
“I want to leave but I can’t,” Ana told me. “I have a guardian. I told my sister and my doctor [that I want to leave this place], but my guardian has a say.” Ana is among 18,000 people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities placed under…
Restraints on a bed in Lopaca Psychiatric Hospital. Emina Cerimovic/Human Rights Watch 2014.
News
NEW YORK, Jul 6 2015 (IPS) - Last week, I went to see the new flick “Love & Mercy,” about the life of Brian Wilson, a singer, songwriter, and the genius behind The Beach Boys. I hadn’t heard much about the film. In fact, I was expecting a summer movie…
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We drove up a narrow, winding road, with trees on both sides for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, at the top of the hill, there it was: a three-building complex with a sign on the gate that read “Psihijatrijska bolnica Lopača” (Psychiatric Hospital…
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Tatjana is 47, but she can’t travel to Austria to visit her daughter without permission from her legal guardian. In fact, she can’t even leave the town in Croatia where she lives without approval. It’s the same if she wants to move to another house, sign…
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Two steep steps. This is what makes it so hard for Amman to go into his school like the rest of his classmates. His school's entrance has no ramp, and these two steep steps leave him no choice but to crawl into his classroom. Amman, who has a physical…
News
Moving boxes were everywhere in the office of the EU delegation in Zagreb when I visited in early June. As Croatia joined the Union on July 1, the EU delegation in Zagreb is closing shop. But just because Croatia has been formally admitted to the Union…
News
NEW YORK — “People look at disabled people and think they don’t have sex. We have sex. And we can be infected with HIV.” John Meletse is a deaf, gay, and HIV-positive South African. When he went to get tested for HIV in 2001, the clinic staff couldn’t…
News
“You are forcing me,” cried a 17-year-old South African girl with a mental disability who was filmed while being raped, as several men and teenagers taunted her anguish and laughed at her pleas. The video spread across the internet like wildfire, inciting…
News

People with disabilities, minorities, remain exposed to grave abuses

For many in Europe, the western Balkans still evoke images of the brutal conflicts that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The legacy of those wars continues to shape European Union and US policy toward the region. Repairing the damage…
News
This week, different groups around the world are observing World AIDS Day and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, on December 1 and 3 respectively. Rarely have the two been observed together. At least until this year. Events hosted at UN…
News

Living with Disabilities in Uganda

As told by Shantha Rau Barriga Edna seemed shy, rounding her shoulders protectively over her baby. She was breastfeeding, and I could see the burn scars on the top of her head. Despite her initial self-consciousness, she told us her story, starting with…
News
One of the two key ‘chapters' of negotiations that Croatia must close before it can join the EU is, as you have written, the chapter on the judiciary and fundamental rights ("Approaching the finishing line", 4-10 November).  Croatia has improved its…
News
In the aftermath of war, civil unrest and disaster, there are always untold stories, but only rarely do you hear of the isolation, neglect and abuse of women and girls with disabilities. Charity lived in a camp for internally displaced persons in northern…