February 23, 2024

Bulgarian mistreatment of disabled revealed

25 have died each year between 2000 and 2010

Lora, allegedly 7 years old, in a Bulgarian orphanage. About 25 mentally-disabled children a year have
died in Bulgarian orphanages of systematic neglect, according to a report from the
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), a human rights group. Between 2000 and
2010, 238 children died. Police are investigating.

According to the BHS’s investigations, 31 children
were starved to death. An autopsy was not performed in more than 90 of the
deaths. The death cases were never investigated as a rule – the deaths remain
unpunished and the children unprotected.

“At the time of the inspections, 103
residents were suffering from malnutrition and therefore they are exposed to
the risk of dying of hunger, including of diseases that will kill them because
of their weakened and underfed condition,” said Margarita Ilieva, of the BHC.
“This is a case of an institutionalized – much more than organized – crime, and
it is directed against the most vulnerable group of people in this country,” she

More than 8 homes maintain a practice of
unlawful physical immobilization of children as means to control their
behaviour – tying up by the limbs or fastening to beds, wheelchairs and other
objects, and the use of restraining jackets. There have been at least 17 cases
of physical immobilization. More than 90 children have been “chemically
restrained” by heavy and damaging neuroleptic drugs.

Dangerous drugs, often harmful and
unnecessary, have been administered to 167 residents. Some of the children have
been subjected to long-term excessive drug treatments.

The plight of the children first came to
light in 2007 when British journalist Kate Blewett produced a harrowing film “Bulgaria’s
Abandoned Children”,
which exposed conditions in state-run Mogilino
Institute. It was subsequently closed.~ Bulgarian Helsinki

Michael Cook
mentally disabled