Bulgaria on focus in global fight for protection of rights of people with disabilities

After visiting different child care facilities in Bulgaria where children with different degree of disabilities are raised, the Founder and Executive Director of the Disability Rights International Eric Rosenthal came to the conclusion that these facilities are some kind of a place where ”worthless people are kept” in Bulgaria. In his words, the lives of these children don’t cost a penny for society which is a sign of poor social policy, care and poor healthcare but is also a violation of fundamental human rights. There is a UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Eric Rosenthal says. It protects the right of absolutely everyone to live in the community and enjoy the opportunity to have a choice, like all other people.

For the first time in history three disability rights organizations- the European Network on Independent Living, the Center for Independent Living and Validity Foundation, have initiated court proceedings against the European Commission for failing to halt EU infrastructure funding being used by Bulgaria to build institutions for persons with disabilities. The free European funding of the services provided to elderly people and people with disabilities in Bulgaria amounts to EUR 18 million. The money will be used for the construction, furnishing and equipment of 6 day-care centers and 68 care homes for elderly people, people with disabilities and people with mental health problems. The funds will be allotted to 29 municipalities. With each set to build up to nine new facilities for over 1,000 people.

Although Bulgaria voiced commitment towards deinstitutionalization, the EU funding will be used for setting up small and specialized homes for accommodation with children with disabilities. According to the non-governmental organizations, this will not solve the serious problems causing discrimination, social exclusion and segregation of these people. After receiving a refusal by the EC to halt these types of investments, the three disability rights organizations had no other option, but to approach the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The images of the children from the child-care facilities must awaken our just anger, Steven Allen, Executive Director of Validity Foundation-Mental Disability Advocacy Centre says and adds:

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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