Dialogue with High Commissioner. Help to 103 disabled children

12 May 2017

Children are all we have. I am not only High Commissioner for Human Rights but also a mother. And the case I’d like to tell you about was one of the most complicated in my practice.

I received an appeal from the President of the Coordination Council of the National Social Organization "The Union of Russian volunteers" Yana Lantratova regarding the protection of minor pupils from the State-financed Care Home "Zabota" of the Republic of Dagestan. According to the applicant, the administration of the institution did all best to turn the life of disabled children into hell. Children were physically ill-treated and kept in inhuman living conditions.

The furnished materials provided tens of witness statements telling all together about the atrocity of the staff. Children were woken up at 4 a.m., beaten and driven into a basement without clothes and after that, the doors closed. Instead of diapers, weak lying children wore plastic bags wrapped into cloths. Older teenagers were made to work while their benefits were selected. Some girls were raped. From 2010 to 2016, about ten children died and their peers had to bury them. Their getting of education was out of question.

Children were given injections of Aminazine and Triphtazinum that made them sleep for a long time and keep their tongues protruded.

Besides, the volunteers found out that officially there were 87 workers in "Zabota" but in fact less than a half of them worked. At the same time, the care home received enough funding from the part of state authorities, charity organizations and private entrepreneurs.

The situation became more complicated because of an absolute inaction from the part of local authorities based on friendly or family ties to the administration of the care home. Also, the volunteers were not allowed to enter the territory of the institution.

When mass media published materials concerning that care home, the head of the institution tried to place it in better light. According to witness statements, some girls from the care home served as housemaids for the head of the institution and her relatives.

To save the children’s lives, I sent grounded requests to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Dagestan and the Ministry of Labour and Social Development of the Republic of Dagestan.

According to the answer received from the Prosecutor’s Office, in April 2016 the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Dagestan had initiated a criminal case against the director of the care home on the ground of its abuse of power. There had been health code violations detected as well as violations of Federal Law No. 426-FZ on Special Inspection of Working Conditions dated 28 December 2013.

The regional government approved a scheduled plan of actions aimed at improvement of living, education and rehabilitation conditions in the care home. Activities on cooperation with volunteers were also planned.

New administration of the care home "Zabota" established cooperation with charity funds "Nadezhda", "Tut dobro", "Chistoe serdtse", "Blagosfera", with charity organization "Gumanitarnyi convoi dobra", with social movement "Dagestan bez sirot" and with volunteer movements "Socialnaya set" and "Pomozhem vmeste". There are also regularly conducted cooperative activities such as art therapy (including play and fairy tale therapy), hippo-therapy as well as visits to cinemas, museums, to the circus, mobile planetarium and walks in the park.

Thus, within my competence I assisted in protection of rights of 103 disabled orphaned children. However, such cases are outrageous and unacceptable. No one should be ill-treated, but when small children are tortured the matter goes beyond right and wrong.

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