When the State Doesn’t Care: A Guide to Accessing Justice for Violations of Children’s Rights in Care Institutions in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus



The problem of neglect and abuse of children in care institutions in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus has been known to governments for decades, yet few victims have secured redress for the harm suffered. While a deluge of information has been published about the scale of the violations, access to justice and redress for these children has largely been neglected. But when a child’s guardian - the State - is the very perpetrator of violations committed against them, they face even greater barriers to accessing justice.

The aim of this guide is to enable advocates to access the legal and practical tools needed to secure an end to, and compensation for, violations of rights suffered while in institutional care. It draws on successes from outside the region and demonstrates the growing movement among civil society organisations within the region to take legal action to defend the rights of children in state care.

Examples documented here include domestic and supranational strategic litigation, the use of national human rights institutions and large-scale investigations, all of which are important tools for securing lasting improvements and justice for children in care. While this guide should be used in a practical way, it should not be construed as a source of legal advice, and we encourage cooperation between lawyers, NGOs and activists with complementary expertise wherever possible. The guide should be used alongside other CRIN resources, including country-specific access to justice reports, our guide to strategic litigation and legal assistance toolkit.

CRIN hopes that this guide will help advocates secure justice for children who are still in care, when they have left care, prevent further abuses and set a precedent for other interventions.

CRIN welcomes:

  • Comments on the guide
  • Additional information on the situation of children in state care
  • Enquiries about starting a new campaign
  • Ideas for further regional and international advocacy

Please contact info@crin.org or, for communications in Russian, russian@crin.org.