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Government Apologizes for Abuse of Disabled

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Government Apologizes for Abuse of Disabled

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson speaking at the Independence Party general meeting in 2013.

Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The Icelandic government has issued an apology to those who suffered abuse at Kópavogshæli, an institution for the disabled, which was operated 1952-1993, mbl.is reports.

A report published this week revealed deplorable conditions at the institution, where children suffered physical and psychological abuse, along with severe neglect, causing them permanent damage.

The report criticized authorities for a lack of a clear legal policy regarding what sort of institution Kópavogshæli was meant to be. Health authorities were blamed for failing to live up to their duty to monitor the operation of the facility.

The report was discussed at a government meeting today.

The statement, signed by Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, reads, “It’s hard, but necessary, to face how difficult the conditions of disabled individuals, children and adults, were at Kópavogshæli.”

The statement continues:

“Today I address all those who as children were placed at Kópavogshæli and their families:

On behalf of the government, I apologize for the inhumane treatment and various neglect suffered by children at Kópavogshæli. Likewise, I apologize to all disabled people, children and adults, who have been placed at institutions in this country and suffered abuse or ill treatment.

Painful experience can never be fully compensated for, but on the basis of laws regarding compensation, we will now work to compensate those who suffered abuse or ill treatment for the damage it has caused, to the extent of our ability. Government ministers are reviewing suggestions made in the report and evaluating what measures will be taken in order to protect the human rights of disabled people in Icelandic society.”

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