Stop Placing People in Institutions Without Consent


Target: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of Croatia

Goal: End the practice of placing mentally and intellectually ill people into institutions without their consent.

Adults with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are being involuntarily placed in institutions at an alarming rate in Croatia. Currently, Croatian law allows the deprivation of rights and free speech to those with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, making it almost impossible for adults with these disorders to make decisions about their lives for themselves.

Physically restrained, force-fed medication and put into seclusion rooms for long periods of time, the mentally and intellectually ill, a population which also includes children, suffer greatly at the hands of Croatia’s discriminatory and inhumane mental health laws. Despite newly adopted legislation that requires consent for treatment and institutionalization, the country’s mental health system is quick to override consent if the person is deemed incapable of giving it, or the treatment is judged to be ‘in their best interest.’

According to a recent dispatch report by Human Rights Watch, the mentally and intellectually ill are often placed in restraints, such as being tied to hospital beds or caged in modified cribs, as a long-term solution to self-harm or as a way to exercise control by mental health attendants. It is estimated that a staggering 18,000 people in Croatia are forcibly kept in mental health facilities throughout the country, and that, shockingly, many of them end up there because friends and family admit them willingly.

Mentally and intellectually ill adults and children should be permitted to give their consent before entering a psychiatric facility and undergoing treatment. Sign the petition to end the practice of placing mentally and intellectually ill individuals into institutions against their will.


Dear President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović,

A disturbing pattern of inhumane behavior has plagued Croatia: the practice of placing mentally disabled and intellectually ill people in psychiatric institutions without their consent. To say that this practice has to end is a severe understatement, as thousands of psychosocially and intellectually ill people suffer at the hands of the country’s flawed mental health system.

As many as 18,000 adults and children are currently in psychiatric facilities against their will—many of which have been placed there by their own friends and family. Strapped to beds, forcibly given medication and placed in solitary confinement for as much as 23 hours a day, the mentally disabled and intellectually ill are suffering and this cruel treatment must be abolished.

Despite the country’s rewritten mental health legislation, which states that all psychiatric admittance requires written consent, countless individuals with disabilities and illnesses are stripped of their rights, their voices silenced and coerced into medical interventions and confinement. Croatia’s mental health system needs to ensure that any mental health services suggested to individuals with disabilities and illnesses are based on the individual’s consent, and that laws prohibiting the free speech of the mentally and intellectually ill are immediately withdrawn.

I urge you to be proactive and vigilant in the fight for the rights of the mentally ill and intellectually disabled by establishing services that honor the voices of these individuals and doesn’t force them into horribly inhumane institutions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimedia Commons

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