Ombudsperson for People with Disabilities last year received 1,394 complaints from citizens, which was an unusually large decline of 20 percent compared to the year before. However, the decline was not a consequence of improvements in rights and everyday lives of people with disabilities. Thanks to the government’s negligence and early parliamentary elections, from 30 May 30 to 17 October Croatia did not have the Ombudsperson for People with Disabilities, and that was the main reason for the decline in the number of complaints, reports Novi List on April 17, 2017.
Among many areas which Ombudsperson Anka Slonjšak presented in her exhaustive, 360 page long annual report for 2016, especially difficult situation is in the field of rights of children with disabilities. Ombudsperson’s recommendations from previous years have not been fulfilled. Slonjšak wanted to create opportunities that every child with disabilities should be able to realize their right to healthcare, rehabilitation and inclusive education in the area where they live.
According to the social welfare centres data from county seats, only 40 percent of children with the most severe disabilities receive some services, mainly thanks to various associations and NGOs. Many children with disabilities are not taking part in regular education system, which results in their lower employability chances.
Schools buildings are not adapted to children with disabilities. Of 2,119 primary school facilities, only seven percent are fully adapted to such children, while 26 percent are partially adapted. This, in turn, means that two-thirds of primary schools are not at all adapted for students with disabilities.
Failure to adapt buildings for people with disabilities is a general problem – from schools to prisons. Most prisons and penitentiaries that the Ombudsperson visited were inaccessible. Somewhat better situation was at the Glina penitentiary, which is a new prison, and certain adaptation have been done in the Pula prison. Medical institutions are also poorly adapted. Ombudsperson pointed out the problem of insufficient number of special gynaecological tables, especially in rural areas.
Employment of people with disabilities is another problem area. Slonjšak states that according to data from the Croatian Institute of Public Health, at the end of last year 203,265 women with disabilities lived in Croatia. Of 82,050 women aged between 20 and 64, only about six thousand of them were employed. They were generally of low education and worked at low paying jobs.
In psychiatric institutions, children and adolescent psychiatry is not separated from adult psychiatry departments, and many institutions do not have enough psychiatrists. In hospitals in Rijeka and Osijek there are not enough psychiatrists, and the conditions are extremely poor. Particularly absurd is the situation in Split, where a new department for children and adolescent psychiatry has been opened, but it is not receiving any patients because there are not enough medical specialists.