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Serbia: Disabled

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of levels of observance of human rights of disabled people in Serbia; and if he will make a statement. (175015)

The conditions described in the report of Mental Disability Rights International are disturbing. While the Serbian authorities questioned the legitimacy of some of the reports, they also expressed their concern and promised prompt action. The Minister for Labour Employment and Social Policy, Mr. Rasim Ljajic, responded quickly by launching an investigation and promising to immediately improve the situation of children in special institutions. We welcome this swift response.

The Government are working on a number of projects in this area in Serbia, in conjunction with the Oxford Policy Management Team (a UK partner), to raise standards in the Serbian authorities. The projects aim to build the capacity of the Serbian authorities in a wide range of areas including; the co-ordination and implementation of social development strategy and social protection law; the supporting of standards, inspection and accreditation (including institutions); social innovation (including funding and long term planning); and dissemination of best practice throughout the system. In addition, our embassy in Belgrade is in touch with Save the Children in Serbia, who are also working alongside the Serbian authorities on alternatives to institutional care for children.