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Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Straightjackets and Seclusion

By Ann Campbell 3rd May 2017

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Validity (formerly MDAC) is today calling for the immediate closure of state-run institutions for people with disabilities in Hungary after an investigation of one large scale institution discovered children and adults who had been tortured and abused, including being tied to beds and restrained with makeshift straitjackets.
One three-year-old was found in a caged bed, not able to walk and showing signs of muscle wastage. Other residents were tied down, some had open wounds and there were signs of malnutrition.
How to help
  • Email the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities, Zoltán Balog, calling for closure of Topház, immediate assistance to the victims and their repatriation to the community: miniszter@emmi.gov.hu
  • To help Validity represent the victims, please donate here

Updates

10 May 2017: Today, Validity (f0rmerly MDAC) has released a new press release calling on the European Union to provide urgent assistance to people with disabilities detained at the Topház Special Home in the city of Göd. At a live press conference, MDAC highlighted that the institution has received financing from EU Structural and Investment Funds which are administered by the Hungarian Government. Validity call for the European Commission to investigate where the money has gone, how the funds have been used and to ensure they comply with EU law, including meeting core human rights standards. Following public statements made to by Károly Czibere, Minister of State for Social Affairs in Hungary, Validity also released a press update.

4 May 2017: The Ministry of Human Capacities has released a statement (in Hungarian) saying it has suspended the current director of Topház and opened a special investigation. Validity has called for a meeting today with Zoltán Balog, setting out for key urgent actions:

  1. Guarantee access to all social care institutions in Hungary to unfettered monitoring by national and international civil society.
  2. Guarantee emergency assistance to the victims of Topház.
  3. Ensure reparations and independent legal representation of the victims.
  4. Publish, for all social care institutions in the country, full financial accounts for the last 10 years, including how much EU money has been spent.
The Validity team discovered the shocking conditions following repeated requests over a period of six months to conduct monitoring of Topház Special Home, an institution in the Hungarian city of Göd that houses approximately 220 people with mental disabilities.
The report, which provides detailed findings on visits undertaken says:
“The MDAC team saw incidences of torture or ill-treatment against residents: people with multiple disabilities inside metal cage beds, seclusion and physical restraints behind locked doors, a young boy in a makeshift straitjacket, untreated open wounds, and indications of malnutrition.”
Steven Allen, Validity interim Executive Director, said:
“The conditions, abusive practices and evidence of violence seen in this institution are the result of systemic failings in law, policy, and regulation and a lack of effective and independent monitoring.
“The 220 people in Topház, like tens of thousands of other children and adults with disabilities in institutions in Hungary, continue to be warehoused away from the public gaze.”
Validity is now demanding the closure of the home and an investigation of the entire state system of these institutions. In addition, Validity is calling for an investigation into the potential misuse of European Union funds, and is asking the European Commission, specifically the European Anti- Fraud Office (OLAF), to open an audit of Topház and other Hungarian institutions for persons with disabilities. The European Commission is urged to consider whether the allegations breach the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Detailed recommendations are set out to the Hungarian Government, including the need to provide emergency assistance to victims, needs assessments, and the closure of this institution with the repatriation of all residents to the community.
Resources
  1. Straightjackets and seclusion (The full report)
  2. Straightjackets and seclusion (Full report: Hungarian) 
  3. Photos
  4. Topház fact sheet
  5. MDAC press release 10/5/17
  6. MDAC press update 10/5/17
  7. MDAC press statement 26/05/17

 

This article was originally published here.