About the project

This is the outcome of a months long journalistic investigation, conducted mostly undercover in institutions for adults with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses in Macedonia and Croatia.

The Macedonia investigation – a shorter and edited version – has first been published by Balkan Insight, on 27 September 2010.

The Croatia investigation – again a shorter and edited version, has first been published by Balkan Insight, on 14 March 2011.

Republishing text or using photos is free and encouraged. The author should be credited.

Yana Buhrer Tavanier is a freelance journalist based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Previously she was editor ‘Social Issues’ of the Bulgarian weekly Capital (2003-2008), and before that worked as a journalist for various publications.

Yana is a winner of several prestigious awards, including the Paniza Prize for Excellence in Journalism (2002), the award for Best Investigative Article (co-established by the Guardian Foundation, London; 2005), the ‘Dimitar Peshev’ Award for Ethnic and Religious Tolerance in Journalism (2006), and the UNHCR Bulgaria Prize for Journalistic Excellence in Covering Refugee Issues (2007).

Yana is author of the publication ‘Reporting Diversity, a Guide for Journalists‘ (British Council Bulgaria; 2008) and co-author of the ‘Human Development Report’ (UNDP Bulgaria; 2006). She has also directed a documentary film about racism towards Africans in Bulgaria (‘Black in White’, 2006), and a co-directed a documentary about people with mental disabilities (‘Three men’, 2010).

As of December 2009 Yana is the Campaign manager of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the country’s main human rights’ group.

Yana is a representative of the Bulgarian Activist Alliance – an informal group of activists, working in the human rights’ field.

As a fellow of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence in 2009, Yana investigated human rights abuses and inhuman and degrading treatment in institutions for adults with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. With her work she won the third prize in the 2009 Balkan Awards for Journaistic Excellence.

You could watch Yana’s TEDxBG 2011 talk on social institutions for children and adults in Bulgaria (with English subtitles)  here.

2 responses to “About the project

  1. Dear colleague,

    I am attending the Easpd Conference in Skopje next week , Oct 6th, 2010 and was researching a workshop on de- institutionalisation that I am contributing to. Though I have become unhappily familiar with the terrible treatment of many people with learning disabilities in the Balkan countries your report has shaken me. I hope that attending an international conference will not mask, or distract from Macedonias responsibility to respect the human rights of these citizens. If any EC officials are present at the conference I shall certainly be drawing their attention to this project. Is there anything practical I can do to assist in securing change? James Crowe, Director, Learning Disability Wales

  2. Hello, you are awesome. Can we talk sometime?? I am here in Macedonia working on several projects in this community and recently visited Damir Kapija myself. I was shocked by the physical disabilities ward, where people with cerebral palsy and other handicaps were still in bed –most of them cribs– and still in their pajamas at noon. I am pumped to find you are on top of the game in investigating this situation and would love to hear more insight. If you’re interested in talking a little, please reply to my email!

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