contact. Due to the limited human resources, caregivers limited their interactions to feeding,
changing and – on a weekly basis – showering the residents.
The Special Rapporteur observed a lack of oversight and enforceable regulations on
the use of physical restraints in the centres. He is concerned that restraints might be used
unnecessarily or disproportionately, particularly in understaffed institutions or in cases of
self-harm or dangerous behaviour. The Special Rapporteur would like to recall that the
unjustified use of restraints may constitute inhumane and degrading treatment, and that
their prolonged use can lead to serious muscle injuries, organ failure and trauma.
Regarding the sexual and reproductive rights of the residents, the Special Rapporteur
notes with concern the forced prescription of contraceptives to all female residents. This
practice appears to be generalized and applied automatically and for a prolonged period of
time. While such contraception may aim to prevent unwanted pregnancies, while allowing
residents to engage in sexual relations, any such measure should always be based on an
individual assessment involving, to the maximum extent possible, the resident concerned
The Special Rapporteur is also concerned that the decision of the responsible
authorities to institutionalize persons with psychosocial disabilities appears to be taken
based exclusively on a medical report by the treating psychiatrist, and generally without
any individual encounter with the person concerned. Reportedly, many of the centres for
social work that have placed individuals in social care institutions, fail to visit the
concerned residents regularly in order to review or reconsider the continued necessity of
their institutionalization. As most residents are completely stripped of their legal capacity,
their subsequent institutionalization with the agreement of their legal guardian is
automatically considered to be “voluntary” and there seems to be no effective legal remedy
against such a decision.
As a result, residents generally remain institutionalized for the rest of their life
without any serious review, in clear contradiction of international standards on the rights of
persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur is concerned that many of
the residents would not need to be institutionalized if alternative, community-based
structures and services were available.
The Special Rapporteur was able to ascertain that many individuals, in particular
children, were separated from their parents and family and placed in institutions simply
because of a lack of community-based support and services for families wanting to keep
their children born with disabilities with them.
The Special Rapporteur welcomes the fact that Serbian law calls for people with
disabilities to have an opportunity to live in the community, but is concerned that the
creation of community support systems still lacks the necessary funding and expertise to
implement such programmes.
Refugees and migrants
During his visit to Belgrade International Airport, the Special Rapporteur and his
team received full and unrestricted access to a room located in the transit zone of the airport,
where persons who have been refused immigration by the Serbian Border Police are held
pending their return to their airport of departure.
At the time of his visit, the Special Rapporteur and his team were able to interview
seven individuals held in the transit zone, one Turkish, one Kurdish, two Iranian and three
Indian nationals. These individuals, six male and one female, had been held in the transit
zone for more than 24 hours. The material conditions in this room were inadequate for the
purposes of detention, the main shortcomings being the absence of beds and heating,
deplorable hygienic and sanitary conditions and constant artificial lighting. When tested,
the tap water was not running, the premises visibly had not been cleaned for an extended