Children working in severe conditions found at rehabilitation community

In carrying out an examination in the "Kalna svētību kopiena" (Mountain Blessing Community), which operates in Brukna Manor in Bauska, the State Inspectorate For Protection Of Children's Rights (VBTAI), together with the representative of the Ombudsman, has determined a number of violations, LETA reported August 20.

The inspection revealed that children have been employed in rural works from 10 to 12 hours a day without the possibility of receiving medical assistance and, in the event of misbehavior, have been punished with food limitations.

The initial inspection was conducted in response to information provided by a private individual on potential violations of children's rights, including physical and emotional violence. On 20 August, VBTAI and the Ombudsman's Office carried out a re-examination.

During that examination, the head of the community could not accurately identify the number of children present in the community, nor did he provide information on the legal representatives of children or produce documents that would justify why children were placed under his care.

It was found that minors staying at the Brukna Manor were employed in rural works for a disproportionate length of time, but if the child had not fulfilled the daily norm, the work would continue during the night hours.

In the event of misbehavior, one of the punishments is limiting food intake - children forced to live on bread and water.

Given that minors do not have access to medical treatment if necessary, VBTAI has also received information on cases where children have felt physically sick or even passed out due to long hours of work and lack of water when working on the field in the heat.

Several episodes of physical and emotional violence have also been reported. Children are also deemed to be at additional risk from the fact that they are in the community everyday with adults who have been previously punished for a variety of crimes, as well as people with different addictions.

Later, it was found that the information author was a "rebelling teenager". His family believes the accusations are unfounded. 

Information regarding the findings in conformity with the competence has been submitted for further assessment to the State Police, the Food and Veterinary Service and the State Labor Inspectorate.

Brukna Manor is widely known as a place where since 2001 a public organization called Kalna svētību kopiena has been operating – a place where people with different addictions recover. Rehabilitation is based on prayer and work.

The founder and spiritual leader of the Community is priest Andrejs Medins.

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