New Action Expected Against Czech Government Over Caged
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 27, 2006
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC--A disability rights group based in Budapest, Hungary reportedly plans to sue the government of the Czech Republic for violating the rights of up to 1,400 people with disabilities that it says are confined daily in caged beds.
Nearly two years ago, J.K. Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" series, read a Sunday Times story about six children with developmental disabilities who were found to be confined nearly all day in wire cages at a psychiatric facility near Prague.
Outraged, Rowling wrote a powerful letter to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, saying she was "horrified beyond words" and asked him to end the "torture" of children and adults in his country's institutions.
For years, human rights groups and international bodies, including the Mental Disability Advocacy Center, Amnesty International, the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations, had been pressuring the Czech Republic to stop restraining people that have physical and mental disabilities in caged beds.
But the day after receiving Rowling's letter, the Czech health ministry announced that it would immediately remove all of the estimated 20 caged beds and 100 net-covered beds it said were in the country's mental health facilities.
Unfortunately, the momentum disappeared when the president soon stepped down and the minister of health was fired.
According to Thursday's Prague Post, many Czech facilities have admitted that they continue to use caged beds. Some have even increased the number they use.
Officials that back the use of caged beds argue that they are needed to keep the institution residents from harming themselves or others.
"It has a positive effect," Ivan David, director of Prague's Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, told the Post. "There are patients with mental disorders . . . they bite or eat anything . . . so this is when the caged beds are used."
MDAC is reportedly in the process of compiling evidence to use in a potential civil rights lawsuit against the Czech Republic, to force it to stop using caged beds.
"Group to sue over caged patients" (Prague Post)
2003 Report: Cage Beds Used In Czech Republic (MDAC)
"My Fight" by J.K. Rowling -- February 5, 2006 (Times of London)
"Advocates Fight For Children To Be Freed From Caged Beds" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)