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Advocacy Group Urges Kyrgyz Government To Respect Rights Of Residents At Psychiatric Facilities
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 1, 2004

BISHKEK, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC--Hundreds of people with mental illness and mental disabilities in the Kyrgyz Republic are being housed in horrid conditions inside government-run institutions, an international advocacy group revealed Thursday.

In a report, entitled "Mental Health Law of the Kyrgyz Republic and its Implementation", the Budapest-based Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) revealed that these people are housed in conditions that violate both Kyrgyz law and basic international standards for treatment.

"Contrary to its international human rights commitments, the Kyrgyz government is unable to provide even the most basic of human needs for persons detained in institutions: food, water, clothing, security, warmth and basic health care," said MDAC board member Dr. Jan Pfeiffer, in a press statement. "MDAC calls on the government to immediately remedy the gross abuse and neglect. We urge the government to start shutting down large abusive institutions and creating community alternatives."

MDAC teams visited four psychiatric facilities in Kyrgyz and found that they all violated the rights of those they claimed to care for.

Residents in one facility had to share a bedroom with 15 other people, leaving little room for movement, no privacy and no place to keep personal belongings. Clothing was in such short supply that one resident reported having to share a pair of shoes with another resident. Another explained that she and a fellow resident shared a bathrobe and a dress: when she was wearing the robe, the other woman wore the dress, and vice versa. Bed linens were in short supply, and residents occasionally had to sleep on bare, rusty bedsteads because there were not enough mattresses.

Most facilities had little or no indoor plumbing, and residents with physical disabilities were seen wearing clothes soiled with urine and feces. Staff reported that some residents were bathed once every ten days.

Food is seriously lacking and some residents go months without meat, vegetables or fruit.

There is also a serious lack of appropriate medications for treating mental illness or diseases. Women and men -- some known sex offenders -- were housed in the same barracks-style room, leaving the women vulnerable to physical and sexual assaults. Children as young as 14 were housed with adults. People with intellectual disabilities were housed with psychiatric patients.

The teams also learned that the facilities were being used as permanent placements, even though it was likely most could have been treated through out-patient methods.

The 54-page report is a result of an investigation carried out in June 2003. It was released to the Kyrgyz government in January 2004, and made public on April 1, 2004.

The MDAC recommendations include developing an independent service to protect human rights of psychiatric in-patients; training mental health professionals, lawyers, and judges regarding mental health law; providing adequate funding to enhance care and safety of institution residents, along with local community-based care; and training residents and family members on their rights and self-advocacy.

Related report:
"Mental Health Law of the Kyrgyz Republic and its Implementation" (Mental Disability Advocacy Center) Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader - free


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