17 December 1998

The Grim Face of Russia's Orphanage Children: Rights group documents 'appalling' abuse, seeks end to Soviet-style warehousing
by Richard C. Paddock

MOSCOW--Thousands of children confined to orphanages across Russia suffer "appalling levels of abuse and neglect" that constitute a violation of their human rights, the organization Human Rights Watch charged Wednesday.

In a detailed report, the group documented how children in some orphanages were kept in bare, dark rooms without stimulation, tied to furniture to restrain them, cruelly punished and deprived of toys and books.

The organization called on Russia to put an end to the Soviet-style system of warehousing unwanted and disabled children out of sight of society and depriving them of their fundamental human rights.

"Thousands of children in a sprawling maze of state-run orphanages have been subjected to appalling levels of abuse and neglect that stunt their development and relegate them to a social underclass," Kathleen Hunt, the author of the report, said at a news conference here.

The New York-based organization estimates that at least 30,000 children locked in orphanages for the severely disabled are confined in violation of U.N. covenants and international law spelling out the rights of children.

An additional 170,000 abandoned children who are considered "normal" live in institutions where they can be subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," including beatings and sexual abuse, the report found.

"Russian children in orphanages are deprived of basic human rights at every stage of their life--from the most fundamental right to survival and development to their rights to humane treatment, health, education and full enjoyment of civil rights," the report concluded.


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