THE CLIENT: Centre for Legal Resources (CLR) / Centrul de Resurse Juridice (CRJ) - a human rights NGO that defends the rights of institutionalized persons with mental disabilities and fights against discrimination against vulnerable persons. www.crj.ro
THE CHALLENGE: Change the Romanian law towards a better way to prevent abuses by the state's institutions aginst persons with mental disabilities that are placed in special care institutions financed by the government.
- In Romania 2015 there are 25.000 persons (7.000 children, 17.000 adults) with mental disabilities placed in over 700 specialized care institutions financed from the public budget.
- During 2010 - 2015, 5.000 persons with mental disabilities died in these places, although they were placed under the state's protection system, with the declared purpose to rehabilitate and recover. Few of these deaths were ever investigated as the law requires.
- These places work in simillar ways as prisons - the "beneficiaries" as they're called, are placed there by a judge's decision, are not allowed to leave the premises without special consent and and you are not allowed to enter or visit without a special approval beforehand.
- The media periodically and with increasing frequancy reports of horrific abuses going on in these places - from human traffiking for prostitution and beggary, to physical and verbal abuse to lack of basic services and access to fair justice.
- Romaina who is under constant scrutiny by International Human Rights Organizations (UN, Council of Europe etc.) for ill treatment and torture of this vulnerable group, has been condemned at ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) in several cases and is behind the schedual with actually implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
THE CHALLENGE: change the Romanian law in a way that it implements an Independent Monitoring Mechanism that would prevent abuses, would guarantee beneficiaries acess to fair justice and that would contribute to de-institutionalization and encourage life inside the community.
RESULTS: After 1 year of street and online advocacy campaign, on December 21st 2015, the Senat (the deciding chamber) voted in favor of the law proposed by CLR, with 102 votes for and 2 abstentions, thus accomplishing the main objective of the campaign. Of course, there is still much work to be done.
Scroll down to see details about THE CAMPAIGN.
- An online petition addressed to the members of the Parliament, asking to change the law and adopt CLR's law proposal
- A national caravan featuring a special photo installation with the purpose to create awareness for the human rights viloations and to gather public support for the law proposal
- Organizing public debates with everyone holding a stake in this matter - government and municipality representatives, NGOs, the media and citizens
- An online community on Facebook to constantly communicate with the public, keep people informed, mobilize people for certain actions like signing the petition and creating buzz
- Post cards with "photos from the death camps" that people can sign and send to their MPs with a message supporting the CLR's law proposal
- Collaborations with investigation journalists that wrote about and investigated human rights violations in institutions for persons with mental disabilities
- Media advocacy tactics, targeting the wide public and/or decision factors with the purpose of explaining the problems of the actual situation and the benefits of the law proposal (print ads in two national newspapers, SMS campaign targeting politicians before the vote etc.)
Media investigations published within the campaign:
- Unul dintre cei implicați în dezastrul „Morții nimănui” de la Breaza și-a făcut un business identic lângă București – Ovidiu Vanghele, Centrul de Investigații Media
- Dana Gârbovan: „Magistraţii trebuie să primească training special în privinţa persoanelor cu dizabilităţi intelectuale“ – Ioana Lupea, jurnalist și blogger Adevărul
- În ”depozitele de oameni,” legea se joacă de-a viața și moartea – Andra Matzal, Think Outside the Box
- Amintirea unor morţi: Poiana Mare, 2004. Datoria Senatului României (I) – Ioana Lupea, jurnalist și blogger Adevărul
Find out more about the campaign on www.crj.ro/lagarele-de-langa-tine.
There you can see more photos with the street photo exhibition, photos from institutions and find full details about the campaign development and results.