MDAC intervenes in case before European Court of Human Rights involving death of an intellectually disabled man in a Romanian institution

4 October 2011, Budapest. MDAC has submitted written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case of Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania (application no. 47848/08).

Mr Câmpeanu was a man of Roma ethnicity who grew up in an orphanage. He was diagnosed as having severe mental disability and, at the age of five, as being HIV-positive. Later on he developed other related diseases, such as chronic hepatitis. He lived in a number of institutions until he died at the Poiana Mare Neuropsychiatric Hospital at the age of eighteen. The authorities did not appoint any guardian or a support person to Mr Câmpeanu while he was alive.

Pursuant to a report drafted by a Romanian NGO (the Centre for legal resources), which visited the hospital and noted Mr Câmpeanu’s situation on the day of his death, Mr Câmpeanu was alone in an unheated room and wore only a pyjama top. Even though he could not eat or use the toilet without assistance, the staff refused to help him allegedly for fear that they would contract the HIV virus. The criminal investigation into Mr Câmpeanu’s death did not lead to any formal charges. Facts of the case can be found here

In its written comments MDAC, referring to  the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and other international standards, highlighted the need to treat persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others in all aspects of their lives, with particular emphasis on States’ obligations to protect persons with disabilities from violations of the right to life and the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment and to guarantee their access to the highest attainable standard of care.

MDAC also argued that access to justice, crucial for people with disabilities, is often denied them. People with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities are often kept in institutions secluded from society, unaware of their rights, and with no available mechanisms to protect them. This aspect is very relevant in the case of Mr Câmpeanu and is connected to an important legal issue. As Mr Câmpeanu had died before the proceedings were brought before the European Court of Human Rights, a question arises as to whether the NGO had standing to initiate the proceedings on Mr Câmpeanu’s behalf. 

To read MDAC’s written comments, click here.


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