Rusi goes to Strasbourg (and then back to Pastra)
This is Rusi Stanev. He is a resident of the social care home in Pastra, Bulgaria.
His case was argued before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg two days ago.
Rusi attended the Court hearing in person, becoming the first person from a social care institution to bring his case before Europe’s human rights court.
Apart from Stanev v. Bulgaria, there was another case argued before the ECHR on 11 November – Mitev v. Bulgaria. Mr Mitev died in Pastra last year and his case was continued by his sister. The two cases were both brought jointly by the nongovernmental organisations Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center.
Watch the public hearing.
Here’s more from the joint press release by the BHC and MDAC, from yesterday.
In their applications to the European Court of Human Rights, both applicants alleged:
· That the deprivation of legal capacity was done in such a way as to violate their right to a fair trial (in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
· That the deprivation of legal capacity affected the enjoyment of their private and family life (Article 8);
· That they were arbitrarily and unlawfully detained in the social care institution (Article 5(1));
· That there was no judicial review of the lawfulness of their detention (Article 5(4));
· That Bulgarian law allows for no possibility to seek compensation for their unlawful detention (Article 5(5));
· That the conditions of detention (in Mr Stanev’s case) in the Pastra social care institution constituted inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment (Article 3);
· That institutionalisation is itself a violation of the right to respect for private life and home (Article 8); and
Back in 2002 the Bulgarian government told the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture that they would close the Pastra institution. Government representatives told the Court on Tuesday that this is still the plan. The truth is somewhat different. No steps whatsoever have been taken. Mr Stanev returns to the Pastra social care institution today. In the institution he will wear his winter coat (the heating is turned on only on 20 November) and await the Court’s judgment, which will be issued in several months.
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center will continue to remind the Bulgarian government of its commitments under international law to children and adults with disabilities. They call upon the government to issue an immediate moratorium to new admissions to social care institutions: if the government will not take active steps to close these institutions and develop community-based services, the least they could do is to ensure closure by attrition. When a resident dies their bed should be destroyed. This simple act would force local authorities to find alternatives to segregation and neglect”.