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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
UN 'failing' Kosovo mentally ill
By Nicholas Wood
BBC, Pristina

A mental health charity has criticised the United Nations administration in Kosovo for its treatment of the mentally ill.

In a letter to the province's senior administrator, Mental Disability Rights International accuses the mission of illegally detaining people, wasting funds and doing little to improve patient care.

It accuses the administration of spending scarce resources on expensive building projects.

It is particularly angry about the refurbishment of a controversial asylum, the Stimlje Institute.

A year ago the charity catalogued frequent sexual abuse of patients and abuse by staff in the home.

The UN has since spent more than $2.5m on the centre. The rebuilding programme includes marble staircases in each building.

The charity says the money could have been better spent by improving patient care and attempting to integrate patients within local communities.

It says some inmates have been detained in the centre arbitrarily without any legal review.

Mental health officials in Kosovo have defended their record, pointing to the increased supervision of patients.

They say the dire state of the Stimlje Institute left them with no choice but to refurbish the complex. They also plan to develop community housing for patients in future.

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