The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics for Europe stated, on Sunday, that it supports the requests sent in an open letter to Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic by international organizations protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and human rights organizations on data regarding COVID-19 and the situation in institutions for persons with disabilities in Serbia.
"We call on the authorities in Serbia, in particular the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, to provide a safe and dignified life for people in care homes as well as children and people with special needs, in accordance with international conventions, including the rights of their families and the Serbian public to accurate and timely information on the situation in those homes," the statement said.
The UNESCO Chair is asking the Ministry to respond to numerous media reports on the inhumane and illegal actions of certain welfare centres. According to their statement, during the pandemic, the authorities were unprepared to provide accurate data on the number of infected and deceased persons in the mentioned homes, including the people who work in them.
"This non-transparency fully fits into the work of a certain number of welfare centres, in which, based on numerous media reports, one gets the impression that crimes are being committed, that psychological violence is being committed against children and their parents, against the helpless, that centres ate participating in the sale of babies, that children are given to foster families for money, and that other immoral and criminal acts are committed, but due to the unprofessional and above all criminal work of welfare centres, even murders occur in those institutions," said prof Dr Vojin Rakic, the Head of the UNESCO Department of Bioethics for Europe.
In light of the above circumstances, they said, they support the initiatives to implement radical reforms in the social protection system in the coming period, and especially the initiative to immediately amend relevant legal acts that would provide the police with the right to take over cases from the centres, to detain the employees from these centres for 48 hours, with a request that the Prosecutor's Office extends their detention until the suspicion of any of the aforementioned or other criminal acts is investigated.