Under Article 2 of the European convention individuals are guaranteed the right to life, deprivation of which brings forth an actionable claim; however, no one has been held fully accountable for deprivation of live of 15 children suffering from physical and mental disabilities. From 1996 through 1997, amidst financial turmoil and a tumultuous winter, 15 children and young adults, suffering from a variety of physical and mental, disabilities died in Bulgaria in the village of Dzhurkovo from the lack of proper food, medicines and basic necessities. The Dzhurkovo Home housed children that were either abandoned by their parents or given up with their parents consent. The home provided food, shelter, medicine and basic necessities for these physically and mentally disabled children, all with support from the State, the village and the municipality.
Despite resources that were stretched thin, the lack of heat and a neglectful government, the Dzhurkovo home continued to provide for these children. The manager of the home sought out funds from the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy, Foreign Aid Agency, the Red Cross and private citizens to keep the home going, but resources dwindled and the home suffered. Eventually, this lead to the deaths of 15 children. For eight years no one was held accountable, but mistakenly the public prosecutor’s office indicted the manager of the home, the head nurse and the medical officer (those who helped these children day in and day out) for professional negligence resulting in the deaths of thirteen of the children. These individuals were acquitted of theses alleged crimes, but those truly responsible have not been held fully accountable for their negligence. Bulgaria was eventually held liable and was forced to pay at most 12,000 Euros to two of the applicants , and denying any recovery for any other applicants.
This is a perfect example of the world’s negative treatment toward children, especially those with mental and physical disabilities. They are left on the outskirts of society (and in this case they were literally, the home being about 5km from the nearest village) and not given the proper necessities to survive. Government funds are spent elsewhere and disabled people are effectively left to their own devices, which can lead to disastrous outcomes. It is definitely not a stretch to say that ableism (discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities) was a motivating factor in the government’s negligence. They see these people as less able and less deserving of support and are not given the full respect and attention of society, which can lead to their destruction.
Who should be held accountable for the deaths of these children? Does the government adequately address the rights of disabled individuals? Has society become more accepting and helpful of these individuals or are they still not given the full rights and full respect they deserve?
Picture: European Courts