The Amnesty International Report on Bulgaria

Amnesty International, a worldwide human rights organization, is concerned about the grave lack of respect for the basic human rights of people with mental disabilities in Bulgaria and is encouraging your office to assist the Bulgarian government in implementing reform of its mental health care system, in line with standards of international law and professional best practice.In response to the findings documented in Amnesty International’s report, Bulgaria: Far from the eyes of society, Systematic discrimination against people with mental disabilities (AI Index: EUR 15/005/2002) and Amnesty International’s concerns and recommendations outlined in the report, I urge the Bulgarian authorities to:- Respect their commitments under international human rights law by ensuring that the basic rights of people with mental disabilities are protected effectively by revising or adopting new legislation and regulations in line with international standards;- Develop and begin to implement a thorough and appropriate reform of mental health care services to ensure that they meet international human rights standards and standards of professional best practice;- Launch public awareness programs stressing that people with mental disabilities have the same human rights as anyone else in the society, consistent with their commitment under the provisions of ICCPR Article 2;- Implement a professional training program for the staff of these institutions in order to ensure that all staff is qualified to work in these institutions, that all staff respect the rights of residents and that all non-medical staff, are closely supervised by qualified health care staff;- Initiate a comprehensive monitoring of all psychiatric hospitals and social care homes by national authorities to determine – on an individual basis – how to bring each institution in line with standards of international law and professional best practice. Those institutions that cannot meet these standards will be closed permanently and the residents moved to adequate facilities.Thank you for your prompt attention to these recommendations.