MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - In a statement posted on its website, Human Rights Watch has criticized the Croatian government for failing to reintegrate intellectually and psychosocially disabled people into society.
"People with disabilities have spent their whole lives locked up, deprived of things so many of us take for granted, like going to school and work, or deciding what time to wake up in the morning," Emina Ćerimović, Koenig Fellow at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.
According to the statement, over 8,200 people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities remain locked behind the doors of psychiatric establishments across Croatia.
The 58-year-old Jelica, who moved into an apartment in 2012 only after spending 17 years in a segregated institution, told Human Rights Watch that she felt like in prison.
"My dignity has been returned to me - I feel like a human being. At the Home [institution] … I felt like I was in prison, like I was punished in some way and.… But, now, I regained my human dignity. Because once again, I am the one who makes decisions," she stated.
The organization denounces the attitude of the Croatian government towards the country's vulnerable and calls on the Croatian authorities to take care of people with disabilities and secure community-based housing for them.