“It is My Dream to Leave This Place” Children with Disabilities in Serbian Institutions

Human Rights Watch

This report from Human Rights Watch focuses on the institutionalization of children with disabilities in Serbia. It is based on 118 in-depth interviews with children with disabilities and their families, disability advocates, staff of residential institutions for children with disabilities, and government officials. The report documents a range of issues experienced by children with disabilities in institutions in Serbia, including segregation, neglect, lack of parental/guardian involvement, lack of privacy, inappropriate medical treatment, lack of access to education, limited freedom of movement, denial of legal capacity upon reaching adulthood, and more.

The report also highlights promising practices for providing care and services to children with disabilities and calls for the scaling up of such programs so that the needs of all Serbian children with disabilities can be met. “Human Rights Watch calls on the Serbian government to take concrete steps to ensure that every child’s right to live with their family or family-like environments is respected and implemented.” The report offers actions to be taken as a matter of priority for the Serbian government and also calls upon the EU and international communities to hold Serbia accountable to human rights standards for people with disabilities, particularly as the EU considers Serbia’s membership.