Abuse and neglect of persons in residential institutions and the international law

Einar A. Helander


The article reviews the international law, as adopted in the declarations, covenants and conventions of the United Nations and supervised by its Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OCHCHR), based in Geneva. It is pointed out that the present practices in residential care centers for abandoned and disabled children that exist in many countries are in non-compliance with the international law. The OCHCHR has clarified the situation in a detailed publication in 2002. Globally 8 million children are now in residential care, and the abuse and neglect seen in these amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In spite of the large number of children who are maltreated, no complaints have ever been received by the OCHCHR.
The international ethical rules for medical personnel are also accounted for, such personnel is explicitly forbidden to take part in any maltreatment of children, to stop it of they witness it and are obliged to report it to the authorities. It is indeed rare to see any compliance with these rules.

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