Kyriakidou expressed her distress over an Ombudswoman’s investigation that vindicated her November 2007 claims of neglect.
Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou’s report, she added, which underlines some serious violations of children’s and parents’ rights should “make us anything but proud”.
Kyriakidou did point out the efforts made by Labour Minister Sotiroula Charalambous to improve the situation since she took over in February.
“From the moment [Charalambous] took over, and this is evident through the Ombudswoman’s report, she had tried to make immediate changes that would improve the situation,” said the DISY deputy.
As Nicolaou’s report points out, “The deputy’s accusations, but also those of the parents, regarding the understaffing of the home, the unsuitability of the buildings, the lengthy enclosure of patients in their rooms and the absence of specialist therapy programmes are confirmed”.
The report also verifies the fact that the home’s many problems have been common knowledge for years and despite promises and assurances from the authorities, no measures were taken to resolve them.
“Everything has been removed from the patients’ bedrooms – all the objects/furniture that could be deemed dangerous to their safety – including bed frames, curtains, wardrobes, chairs and cupboards. There is literally just a bed mattress,” the report explained.
Kyriakidou called on Child Commissioner Leda Koursoumba to examine the report and inform the public on the measures that have been taken to deal with the children’s aggressiveness towards themselves and others.
Another shocking inclusion in the report said: “In waiting the relative instructions, it was decided that for precautionary reasons, the following measures should be taken: patients must wear a straight jacket, when they are alone in their rooms they must wear special gloves, they must wear tights in the winter and must have plastic tape around their wrists and ankles.”
As Kyriakidou pointed out, “This describes conditions we used to see in asylums of the previous century and it constitutes child abuse”.
This report, she added, refers to a home that has been isolated from society for years; a home where there are no therapeutic programmes, officers who request an increase in the children’s pharmaceutical dosage as a means of dealing with their behaviour and staff that are not trained to deal with dangerous areas and hygiene problems.
Another problem spotted by the Ombudswoman was that the home’s social worker doesn’t visit on a daily basis, as provided by the Nea Eleousa Operation Plan, preventing her from having a clear view of the home’s problems.
Finally, the Ombudswoman refers to a report by the European Commission regarding the prevention of torture and inhumane or humiliating treatment. At Nea Eleousa, said Kyriakidou, there are matters in the Treaty for Preventing Torture and Inhumane or Humiliating Treatment that are being violated.
“We are all awaiting the investigation by the independent committee appointed by the Labour Minister,” said Kyriakidou. “There are significant reasons for which experts from abroad must be called in to make changes.”
By Jacqueline Theodoulou, Cyprus Mail 2008