Out of the Asylum

Serbia -- long castigated as the land whose late president, Slobodan Milošević, launched a genocide in Yugoslavia -- is not accustomed to finding itself lauded for safeguarding human rights. But in one area of human rights protection, much-maligned Serbia has taken an unprecedented step that puts ahead of all the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, including states that are already members of the European Union.

In September 2006, Serbia’s Ministry of Labor, Education, and Social Affairs made it official policy to integrate into society thousands of people who had been locked away in Dickensian state institutions because they have a mental disability. With this historic move, Serbia adopted a practice that took hold in the rich, Western countries after World War II but was never applied in the Communist bloc.

It is anathema to the concept of a free society to segregate people solely on the basis of mental disability, to ignore their most-basic human rights, to bar them from access to education and employment, to deny them the freedom to choose where and how they live and with whom they can associate.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/wUws3R5;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.