During the inspection performed by the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, a man with special needs was found illegally imprisoned at Skemai Social Care Home in Rokiškis district, where he spent two weeks behind the bars.
According to V. Valentinavičius, the Head of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, the premises had several locks and it was very difficult to get inside: “In order to get to the person, we had to unlock a couple of doors. Upon entering the room, we found three more separate rooms. In one of those rooms there was a door without a handle, three inhabitants behind it and one of them behind the bars.
By the time the police officers arrived at the care home the next morning, the bars had already been dismantled, but the man was lying naked, curled up.
Unlawful deprivation of liberty is prohibited. “All explanations that a person had a mental disability and was aggressive, etc., are unacceptable having in mind that the care home is established for such persons – dependants, who have mental, emotional disorders or mental disability. There are professionals, who should know how to deal with such people. Moreover, there are legal and permissible means how to do it. Neither bars nor insulators, such as those we found, are permissible and possible,” V.Valentinavičius pointed out.
According to the Head of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office, even more cases have been identified that can be considered as human rights violations. “We believe that there are significantly more problems; however, all the information will be assessed by the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas, who will present conclusions and recommendations on issues concerning securing human rights in Skemai Social Care Home.
In response to the alarming message of the employees of the Seimas Ombudsmen‘s Office on inadequate care of the residents in Skemai Social Care Home, the police launched an investigation into the incident. A pre-trial investigation regarding unlawful deprivation of liberty was initiated following Article 146 of the Criminal Code. Under this article, a person illigally detaining another person is liable to a fine, arrest or imprisonment for up to three years, and, if circumstances change, even to more severe measures and imprisonment for up to five years.
In response to the situation, the Minister of Social Security and Labor Linas Kukuraitis has temporarily removed Gintaras Girštautas, the director of Skėmai Social Care Home; currently an inspection is being launched against him. Specialists of the Social Services Supervision Department headed to Rokiškis district, where they will assess all the circumstances in the institution.