|In Romania, a law has been changed.|
The law says that children under three cannot go into institutions.
The law does not talk about children with disabilities.
This means that children with disabilities
do not have the same rights in Romania.
Children with disabilities should not go to institutions.
The government must change the law
to give equal rights to children with disabilities.
A recently amended law in Romania relating to the institutionalisation of children under the age of three omits those with severe disabilities.
The previous legislation, written in 2004, protected children up to the age of two from placement into institutional care. However, the recent amendment to Article 64 of Law no. 272/2004 extends the age to three.
While this is a significant step in the protection of children in Romania, bringing legislation in line with the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care, the law still fails to recognise the equal rights of children with severe disabilities. As a result, any child under the age of three years with a severe disability could still be institutionalised.
The omission of legislation protecting the fundamental rights of a child with disabilities is only the most recent instance of Romanian authorities’ reliance on the archaic method of institutionalisation of children with disabilities.
Earlier this year, an undercover investigation into the treatment of people with disabilities in Romania found that they were the victims of systematic abuse at the hands of institutional care facilities. The report, part of the People & Power series on Al Jazeera, led to an official investigation by the European Ombudsman over the allocation of European Commission funds to institutions for people with severe disabilities.
The Romanian Government has vowed to eradicate the practice of institutional care by 2025 as well as promising to reform child protection services but officials have remained silent on the Provisions which exempt children with disabilities from this most recent piece of legislation.
With a number of studies pointing to the long-lasting, damaging effects of institutionalisation on children under the age of three, the Romanian authorities must therefore acknowledge the fundamental rights of all children and extend the prohibition of institutional care to protect those children with disabilities.