NGOs Turn to Europe to Fight Institutionalisation of Children in the Czech Republic

31 October 2017

Prague, Budapest, 31 October 2017: The Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, European Roma Rights Centre, and Forum for Human Rights have filed a collective complaint to the European Committee of Social Rights calling for the closure of residential care institutions for children under the age of three.

Institutionalisation has long-term negative effects on the physical and emotional development of young children. Yet the Czech Republic continues to be one of the last European states to allow long-term placement of young children into state institutions.

Romani children and children with disabilities are significantly overrepresented. Professionals, activists and non-governmental organisations have for years been pressuring authorities to abolish institutions for children under the age of three. This new complaint, relying on Article 17 of the European Social Charter (ensuring the right to social and economic protection of children and provision of appropriate supportive services), asks the European Committee to step in and pressure the Czech Republic to finally shut these institutions down.

All children have the right to be provided adequate support and care in their own family, or in family-like alternative forms of care. “Children who live in institutions have to deal with severe social isolation, reduced environmental stimulation and loss of control over all aspects of their daily life, not to mention the so well-documented forms of abuse and neglect. These can have seriously detrimental effects for the rest of their lives, particularly when children are placed in institutions at such a young age. The situation in the Czech Republic can hardly be considered as appropriate within the meaning of Article 17 of the Charter,” said Steven Allen, Interim Executive Director of the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre.

“All young children are vulnerable to harm caused by institutionalisation, but once again it is Romani children in the Czech Republic who are disproportionately affected,” said ERRC President, Đorđe Jovanović. “Segregation starts early for Roma here - official data clearly shows that Roma are significantly overrepresented, alongside children with disabilities, in state care institutions.”

 “We are hoping that after years of discussions at the governmental level, with the help of this collective complaint, the Czech Republic will finally realise that ending institutional care for young children must become a political priority,” emphasised Tereza Bártová, lawyer of Forum for Human Rights.

For further information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Tereza Bártová
Forum for Human Rights
+420 774 394 700

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118

Steven Allen
Interim Executive Director
Mental Disability Advocacy Centre
+36 1 780 5493


Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) is an international human rights organisation that uses law to secure equality, inclusion and justice for people with mental disabilities worldwide. Website:

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is a Roma-led international public interest law organisation tackling discrimination of Roma in Europe and providing legal representation in cases of human rights violations. Website:

Forum for Human Rights (Forum) works to ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in accordance with relevant international human rights standards, using litigation and advocacy to promote human rights before national and international human rights bodies. Website:


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