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Russian Federation Ignores Rights Of Children With Mental Disabilities, Amnesty International Reports
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 3, 2003

MOSCOW, RUSSIA--An estimated 29,000 children are condemned to "utterly meaningless life", housed in squalid conditions inside 155 Russian orphanages, the human rights group Amnesty International revealed in a 107-page report issued Thursday. Another 19,400 are in large children's homes.

Most of them were born with mental disabilities.

The children, given such archaic labels as "imbecile", "idiot" and "uneducable", are often removed from their families with no legal authority, no representation on the part of the parents, and no appeal process.

Once in the institutions the children spend their time in wards with dozens of beds per room, and perhaps two nurses for every 100 children. Since they are considered "uneducable" and "hopeless" the state does not provide any education or even stimulation for the children. They are just waiting to die or to move to "old people's homes", the name given for facilities housing people with disabilities over 18 years of age.

"Russia must ensure that the best interests of the child become the key factor in deciding the future of Russia's vulnerable children," said Amnesty spokesman, Lesley Warner.

Amnesty International is calling for the Russian Federation to determine the criteria and procedures for separating children from their families; guarantee child-centered treatment of those placed in the facilities; develop a means for placements to be reviewed by an independent court; and provide independent experts to speak on the children's behalf.

Related resources:
"Rough Justice: The law and human rights in the Russian Federation -- summary" (Amnesty International)
"Rough Justice: The law and human rights in the Russian Federation -- entire report (Amnesty International)
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