Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Statement on abuse uncovered in another Hungarian disability institution

By Erzsébet Oláh 10th April 2019

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Validity expresses our deepest concern about the ill-treatment of residents of an institution for persons with disabilities in Mozsgó, which was recently reported by the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. The Commissioner investigated following a complaint from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), a national human rights NGO. According to the report, the complaint filed against the institution highlighted deeply disturbing video footage showing serious physical and psychological abuse of residents, including beating of the residents by the staff and various forms of degrading treatment. We demand that the Hungarian authorities immediately investigate the allegations of ill-treatment, provide adequate redress and support to the victims and take steps to provide quality community-based services to the residents of the institution.

Validity consistently campaigns against the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities along with the multiple forms of abuse, torture and degrading treatment which are inherent in such facilities, both in Hungary and more widely in Central and Eastern Europe. Placing people in institutions segregates them from society, renders them vulnerable to abuse and fundamentally contradicts human rights.

In 2017, Validity revealed shocking information about torture, abuse and neglect of child and adult residents of the Topház institution. To date, no redress has been provided to the residents of Topház, and the authorities continue to hinder access to justice for the victims of ill-treatment by denying any form of contact between the residents and lawyers or civil society organisations. The situation has not improved since the management of Topház was outsourced to the Charitable Service of the Order of Malta, as recent reports of violence, including sexual abuse, of certain residents confirmed.

Validity advocates for all persons with disabilities to be supported to live independently in the community and for the closure of all institutions which enable systematic abuse to take place.  Yet, instead of closing such facilities, the Hungarian Government continues to invest hundreds of millions of euros in refurbishing and building new institutional settings in contradiction with international human rights law. Many projects are co-financed by the European Union, in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We welcome the call by the Commissioner urging the Minister of Human Capacities to ensure that persons with disabilities are moved into community settings in a way that ensures real community inclusion and support in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Validity demands that the Hungarian authorities take immediate steps to close these institutions, provide community-based services to the residents and ensure effective access to justice and redress in cases of ill-treatment. A national moratorium on admission of new residents should be adopted immediately. We further call on the Hungarian Government and the European Commission to halt the financing of segregation and shift resources to supporting schemes which enable inclusion.