Police starts case over alleged child abuse at Brukna community

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State Police have started an administrative process regarding emotional violence against a child in the Brukna religious community, said Dace Kalniņa, representative of the State Police Zemgale region September 7.

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.

As LSM already reported, the inspection of the community 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 by having food withheld.

Currently, another check on various alleged offenses in the community will continue by the police.

The Law on the Protection of the Rights of a Child states that emotional violence is a violation of the child's self-esteem or psychological influence by threatening him, cursing, humiliating him, mistreating him or her, or otherwise harming his or her emotional development. A warning or a fine of up to €700 may be imposed on this.

The State Inspectorate For Protection Of Children's Rights (VBTAI) indicates that other potential irregularities have also been identified during their inspection on 5 August.

"It has been found that there is potential for physical and emotional violence on the part of the community leader, as well as disproportionately long working hours, limiting food intake as a punishment they called Lent. But, of course, the community does not have the right to provide such a service, called social rehabilitation, because there are still former prisoners,” said inspection spokeswoman Evija Rācene.

Latvian Television has failed to communicate with the head of the community Andrejs Mediņš. He had previously denied any violations of the law. The case has caused widespread controversy across Latvia.

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