Experiences gained during the coronavirus pandemic have shown that shortcomings in respect for the human rights of the elderly in this period became even more pronounced and that the imposed measures significantly hampered access to health and social care, affected financial security and exposure to violence and discrimination, while the elderly with mental and physical disabilities encountered most difficulties, the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić, pointed out today.

On 15 June, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, he referenced the citizens’ contacts to the Protector of Citizens stating the most frequent problems that the elderly faced were poverty and violence, as well as family neglect, including disposal of property without their consent, dissatisfaction with the exercise of the right to material assistance due to the harsh financial situation, difficulty in the exercise of the right to allowance for assistance and care of another person.

The Protector of Citizens considers it necessary to establish a more efficient social welfare system in line with the needs of the elderly, to provide financially viable services and special support services and to take all available measures and activities to provide the elderly with adequate health care in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.

The Protector of Citizens highlighted that the violence against the elderly was the hardest form of violence and that it was a criminal act which, most frequently, remained invisible, silent, while the victims suffered ill-treatment and discrimination for months, even years. In his words, due to their damaged physical, mental and health conditions, the elderly are frequently exposed to violence and discrimination by their family, guardian or social institution taking care of them. The elderly from villages in underdeveloped municipalities, who generally have no one to turn to for help, are in a particularly precarious position, said Mr. Zoran Pašalić and called on the elderly to report all forms of discrimination and violence against them, because they have the right to a safe and dignified life.

The Protector of Citizens underscored the lack of normative framework for an efficient protection of the rights of the elderly. The United Nations project that, by 2050, the number of people over 60 will reach 2 billion, and that the elderly human rights protection is still not sufficiently recognized in international laws, that bind the States to be equally mindful of the rights of all their citizens. The Protector of Citizens believes that a new UN Convention that will ensure the respect for the rights of the elderly citizens is urgently needed.