Advocacy statements

Neglect in Bulgarian children’s homes

  • Date / 2013
  • Location / Bulgaria
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 23rd Session 27 May to 14 June 2013

Agenda Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Neglect in Bulgarian Children’s Homes

Mr President

On 4th April 2013 the government of Bulgaria responded to criticism by IHEU of the appalling treatment and neglect of children Bulgarian institutions by submitting a written report to the Human Rights Council. [1]. The report claims to have conducted 22 inspections of homes after the announcement of 238 deaths. But the report contained no explanations for the deaths. Were they investigated? Did Bulgarian justice prosecute anyone? All we are told is that the homes were visited. There are no details of any independent investigation involving professionals trained to work with children, and according to our sources no such investigations have been conducted.

The report states that there are rules on notification and registration of death cases. Yet there is no confirmation that deaths will be investigated nor that deaths involving mistreatment and starvation will lead to any internal investigation by Social Services as would happen anywhere else in Europe.

From a contact who directly witnessed three of these deaths, we now understand that the 238 victims counted only disabled children. The total death toll in these homes is clearly far higher. Furthermore, NGOs are still being prevented from investigating the children´s deaths themselves and are still being removed from or prevented from visiting these homes.

Our full response to the Bulgarian government report is available on our website.[2] It contains details of shocking cases of mistreatment and also shows that the new state-run homes are unfit for purpose, merely continuing the practices of neglect endemic in the old, including obstacles to access by the children’s families.

We call upon the government to take immediate steps to fulfill its duty of care to all of these unfortunate children.

Thank you sir.


[1] http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_f.aspx?s=95  A/HRC/22/G/19

[2] http://iheu.org/story/iheu-responds-bulgaria-plight-children-institutions

Suggested academic reference

'Neglect in Bulgarian children's homes', Humanists International

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