Czech Republic warehouses disabled people - Money Earmarked for Creation of Institutions

Jana Hrdá, Director of the Prague Center for Independent Living, appeals to the international disability community to write letters protesting the planned construction of more institutions for disabled people in her country. A letter by the Director of the Independent Living Institute points out the detrimental psychological, social and economic effects of warehousing disabled people in institutions. Instead, evidence shows that funds spent on personal assistance and housing adaptation yield high returns for individual and society. Internet publication URL:

Dear friends,

We have learned that on July 28th the government discussed a proposal to set aside 4 billion Czech crowns to construct new buildings for institutional care. This will happen because many existing institutions will be closed down - not due to the good sense of the government, but because the buildings have to be returned to their former owners (restitutions). The owners naturally do not want institutions for people with disabilities in their buildings.

Please, could you write to our govemment and ask if they really want to make so senseless a decision. I hope that such an intervention from the outside will support our afforts.

Thank you for your kind help.

Best regards

Jana Hrdá
Center for Independent Living Prague
Benediktska 6
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic 

Send your letters to:

Mr. Milos Zeman
Prime Minister
Urad vlady CR
nabr.E. Benese 4
110 00 Praha 1
Czech Republic

Letter by the Independent Living Institute to the Czech Prime Minister:

July 28, 1999

Regarding your government's plans to spend considerable funds on institutions for disabled persons

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

It is a surprise that a country as progressive as the Czech Republic intends to spend an enormous amount, at the turn of the millenium, on building institutions. As disabled people themselves claim, and as available scientific evidence shows, institutions are detrimental to health, psychological well-being, economic and social opportunities, and they prevent disabled persons from participating as equal citizens in society. Instead, international documents such as the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities of Disabled Persons - a document that was also signed by the Czech Republic - require all member states to remove the barriers in society that hinder disabled persons from full participation and equalities.

In line with these demands I strongly suggest that the money be used instead for such programs as making existing ordinary housing accessible through housing adaptation grants, and for direct payments for personal assistance enabling disabled persons who need practical help in their daily lives to employ their own assistants or hire the services of assistance providers. I point to the recent legislation in the Slovak Republic entitling its disabled citizens to such programs and the long experience of numerous countries in the area of de-institutionalization and preparing society to include citizens with disabilities as equals.

The international Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement is prepared to assist with its extensive experience and to provide technical assistance to the Czech government.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, I express my admiration for all that your country has accomplished in recent history and urge you to include disabled people in the gains that your country's general population has made in the area of human rights.

Thank you.


Adolf Ratzka
Independent Living Institute