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Following the ninth session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working group in November 2010, Bulgaria rejected a number of recommendations made by the reviewing states. Among the rejected recommendations is Recommendation No. 3 concerning the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol. The Bulgarian government claims to have adopted the Convention, but it requires more time to ensure its implementation. This argument appears dubious in face of the longstanding Protection against Discrimination Act, whose aim is to combat discrimination also on the grounds of disability.
Some small steps were made in 2010 towards taking people out of institutions in Bulgaria, but, in fact, these actions did not change the overall situation. They were not part of a targeted, comprehensive, well-thought-out and resource-backed process, but rather isolated physical transfers of people from institutions to other services, often in inadequate locations with respect to the staff’s ability to deliver good care and adequate infrastructure. None of the recommendations addressed to the EU member states in the European Commission’s 2009 Report of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care were implemented.
Today the issue of people with mental disabilities in institutions is inseparable from the issue of developing a community-based social services network that would allow them to get the necessary support and resources in order to regain their lives and return to their communities. The inaction in providing community-based social support in sufficient quantity and quality to effectively achieve the purpose of deinstitutionalization, together with the physical mechanisms of isolation of the users of social services outside the community, ranks among the factors leading to the violation of the right to freedom and security and the right to personal life.
In May 2010, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy developed a draft political document entitled Vision on the Deinstitutionalisation of Senior Citizens with Mental Disorders, Mental Retardation and Dementia. This draft, which could be a step towards the implementation of some of the EC recommendations, was not adopted by the end of the year.
Thus violations of the rights of persons with disabilities persist: inhuman treatment, medication abuse, centralized institutionalization procedure, lack of social services regulation, arbitrary appointment of guardians.
You can read more on the disability problematic in BHC’s annual report and in the sections below.