On 20 April, ENIL sent an Open letter to the Croatian Minister of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Ms. Neda Murganic, in order to raise our concerns about the current administration’s reluctance to continue the process of transition from institutional care to living in the community. The letter followed our participation in an event in the Croatian Parliament on March 16th and contacts with the Association for Self-Advocacy and Platform 112.
In the letter, we’ve raised six key concerns:
Failure to continue the process of deinstitutionalisation, which started under the previous Government. We are concerned about the lack of leadership and the reluctance to move beyond the partial closure of institutions.
Negative public attitudes, and the Government’s failure to ‘defend’ the right to live independently in the community for all disabled people.
Delays with using the European Structural and Investment Funds to support the process. Croatia has planned to use significant funds to support the process of ‘transition from institutional to community-based care’, but a small proportion of those funds have been allocated so far. We are also concerned about the lack of involvement of DPOs in the process.
Limited access of disabled people to personal assistance, which is still not included in any piece of legislation. At the moment, personal assistance is available to a limited number of people, for a maximum of 20 hours per week.
The continued placement of adults with disabilities into foster families, despite evidence of the human rights violations in such settings and the fact that fostering of adults is not in line with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Plans to bring back full guardianship for disabled people. Despite the abolishing of full guardianship in recent years, there are concerns that the new Family Law will reintroduce it. Croatia is also behind in introducing alternatives to guardianship, i.e. supported decision making.
In addition to the Ministry, we sent the letter to a number of other stakeholders, most importantly the European Commission (units responsible for Croatia, and for disability rights), the European Parliament, the UN and the Council of Europe, as well as to the Croatian Ombudswoman for Persons with Disabilities and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.
ENIL will continue monitoring developments, in cooperation with our Croatian partners, the European Commission and Biljana Borzan MEP. We will also support any related initiative that aim to facilitate access to independent living for disabled people.
To download the letter, please click here.
To read the fact sheet on independent living prepared by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, please click here.