My Life as a ‘Legal Non-Person’ – Civil Death in Sarajevo

My Life as a ‘Legal Non-Person’ – Civil Death in Sarajevo

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What is it like to live as a non-person under the eyes of the law? This man, A.D. lives in Sarajevo and has kindly shared his own story with the PERSON partnership to shed light on what it might be like to live under this shadow of ‘civil death’.

Living deprived from legal capacity

My name is A.D. and I was born on May 19th 1982 in Bihać. In 1986, I was placed in the children’s home Rada Vranješević at Banja Luka where I stayed for 13 years. 150 children were also housed there. In 1989, I started attending the first grade of the Elementary school Zmaj Jovan Jovanović. Having finished elementary school, I was then transferred to the Institution for Education of Boys and Male Adolescents in Sarajevo. My brother was also transferred in that very Institution, so that’s why I came along as well. I quarreled there quite frequently, got into a lot of fights with the boys, kept bad company, had a poor nutrition etc. My monthly allowance was 10 KM. I remained in the Institution for 3/5 years. After I finished school, I lived in one apartment as a subtenant and then the streets became my home. That entailed even more bad company. I lived in dilapidated and abandoned houses. When I had money, my folks would gather around me and treat me like a friend, but as soon as the money was gone they would all return to their homes, leaving me alone on the streets. I was willing to do almost everything just to collect some money. Cheating and stealing were not excluded. I drank alcohol regularly, and also started using drugs. Nonetheless, I was often cold, hungry, filthy, unshaved and untidy.

I’m sorry that I’m deprived of my legal capacity and that I cannot work anywhere. I am in constant fear that they will get me back into an institution because I have no legal capacity and I do not have the right to decide where I live… What I would really like is for my legal capacity to be restored so that I could get a job, get married and be free.

The next step was to transfer me from the Center for social work Novo Sarajevo to „Nahorevo“. I was there for two months. I drank alcohol all the time, and drinking was strictly prohibited. Consequently, my behavior was disruptive. I fought with the doctors and the technicians while being drunk. However, when morning came, so did my disbelief after realizing what I had done. I wasn’t pleased with my life at all. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t give me permission to leave the Institution. That infuriated me- others were allowed to go out whenever they wanted, and I wasn’t. Then I caused a scene and crashed somebody’s car, so I got expelled. I wandered the streets of Sarajevo, and then found myself in Banja Luka. The streets were my home back there. I turned to alcohol again. Then I was housed at „Duje“. There was no alcohol, and I only received my therapy. 400 people lived there with me. During my stay there, I only went out once with the people from the Institution, and it was a trip to the woods. Five persons shared a room with me. The nutrition was very poor, whereas the accommodation was quite expensive– 1.200 KM. They cleaned the rooms but it was all in vain. It simply wasn’t neat. 70 people watched one television so I seldom had the opportunity to watch what I wanted. We used three bathrooms. I was bored out of my mind. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of eventually leaving the Institution…….

One day, people from the Sumero came and asked me if I wanted to go out. I said yes. I have been living in the local community in Sarajevo since October 10th 2011. As soon as I moved in the apartment I felt happier. I didn’t have to share my clothes with other people, which was the hardest thing I had to do in the Institution. I’m not hungry or thirsty. I cook and do housework with the support of my assistant. I am allowed to go out whenever I want. I take my therapy on time and also get myself tested regularly. In the beginning, I went to my check-ups with the assistant, but now I go all by myself. My assistant Seka taught me everything. Now I know how to use the washing machine, to maintain the apartment and my personal hygiene. I have my allowance, and everything that I get, I mostly spend on cigarettes. I’m satisfied with my life at the moment. What I enjoy the most is that I can go for a walk whenever I feel like it. I’m sorry that I’m deprived of my legal capacity and that I cannot work anywhere. I am in constant fear that they will get me back into an institution because I have no legal capacity and I do not have the right to decide where I live. I am the first person together with my brother, which was released in the program supported housing in local comunity from the residential institution, behind me remained my friends who might never come out. What I would really like is for my legal capacity to be restored so that I could get a job, get married and be free.

The PERSON partnership would like to thank A.D. for sharing his story on our blog.

 

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This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.