Study on Human Rights of Persons with Mental or Intellectual Disabilities in the Republic of Moldova

The Human Rights of People with Mental or Intellectual Impairment in the Republic of Moldova - ReportThe Human Rights of People with Mental or Intellectual Impairment in the Republic of Moldova - Report

On 31 July 2015, MDAC and the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) launched a report on the human rights of persons with mental health issues or intellectual disabilities in the Republic of Moldova. The report is the result of more than three years of research work by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) jointly with MDAC.

The report focuses on three rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): the right to inclusive education; the right to legal capacity; and the right to independent living in the community. Moldova ratified the CRPD in 2010.

The report found that Moldova has made significant strides to further advancing the rights of children and adults with disabilities in the country, but many continue to be denied the support they need to be fully included in society. The education system has become significantly more inclusive and community-based services have been developed, but these processes are far from complete. Serious concerns remain in relation to law, policy and practices. In particular:

  • Despite progress in recent years, circa 1,716 children with mental or intellectual impairments remain in segregated educational institutions and not all of them are receiving support they need to access inclusive schooling.
  • An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people are stripped of the right to decide for themselves, and are under the control of guardians. They are prohibited from marrying, divorcing, signing an employment contract, refusing medication or undertaking a range of other basic socio-legal acts.
  • Many guardians choose to place people with disabilities in closed institutions against their will, use their disability allowances and control the assets of the person under their guardianship.
  • Almost 2,500 children and adults with mental disabilities are forced to live in segregated institutions which are cut off from their community. Life in such institutions means denial of basic liberties and dignities for residents: strong smells of faeces, urine, sweat and dust are common. Residents can only leave the premises with prior authorisation. Violence and abuse perpetrated by staff and other residents, including a number of cases of rape and forced abortion, are regularly reported and, as a rule, not adequately sanctioned.  

UN Human Rights Adviser Claude Cahn (OHCHR) said, “This report reflects the combined experience and knowledge of a broad range of Government, civil society and international actors working on strengthening real rights in practice by these stigmatised and marginalised groups. The aim of this report is to provide human rights assessment of certain key areas of policy, law and practice in the Republic of Moldova, with a view to guiding reforms, as well as galvanising improvement of the treatment of persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.”

“Until very recently denial of legal capacity has been used to deny the right to vote to persons with disabilities. But our joint advocacy has resulted in the adoption of groundbreaking legal modifications recognising equal voting rights for all persons with disabilities. In June, I participated in my first elections ever. I felt the responsibility of giving my vote for a country more inclusive and more just towards persons with disabilities.” – stated Alexei Borisov, a person with intellectual disabilities.

Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director, said, “We hope that the report will be used by the Government civil society actors and others to continue to drive the reforms which people with mental health issues and people with intellectual disabilities in Moldova deserve.”

Download the report in English or in Romanian

The full text of the report is also available on the website of UN Moldova


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