What is the situation in the Balkans and Turkey?

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All of the countries of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia), as well as Albania and Turkey, have signed and ratified the CRPD. This means that these countries are obligated to reform their laws to protect the right to act for all people.

However, none of the countries in this region (as is the case worlwide), yet have systems that ensure the right to act for people deprived of their legal capacity.


For example:

  • In Kosovo, complete deprivation of legal capacity is automatic for any person entering a psychiatric hospital (whether voluntarily or involuntarily). Once a person has been deprived of legal capacity, she is denied the right to marry.


  • In Serbia, the use of guardianship has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2012, more than 17,000 people were deprived of their legal capacity through guardianship proceedings. People who are deprived of their legal capacity are automatically stripped of their rights to enter into contracts, marry, vote, exercise parental rights, join political parties, or make decisions on medical proceedings, including termination of pregnancy.


  • In Turkey, the appointment of a guardian due to “mental illness” strips a person of the right to vote, and subjects any marriage to the scrutiny of a guardian, who may object to the validity of the marriage.


  • In Bosnia-Herzegovina, where an estimated 6,500 people have been placed under court-ordered guardianship due to intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, deprivation of legal capacity also deprives a person of the right to vote. A survey of professionals working with people with disabilities in 2013 found that, although 89% of respondents had been involved in depriving a person of legal capacity, only 24% had ever been involved in returning legal capacity.


  • In Croatia, more than 18,000 people were deprived of the capacity to act as of 2013. By contrast, only 55 people (0.3% of those lacking the right to act) had their legal capactiy restored in 2013.


Civil society organizations in the Balkans have formed a partnership under the EU-PERSON project to reform laws, change attitudes, and improve the rights of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in the region.

Together the partnership has achieved considerable change, including amending legislation in Croatia, holding the first ever conference in Kosovo focused on mental disability rights, initiating self-advocacy groups in Bosnia-Herzigovina, training judiciary on CRPD issues in Serbia, drawing together civil society organisations in Turkey to raise awareness on legal capacity law and policy, and other achievements.


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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.