Since the State Inspectorate for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (VBTAI) found violations in the “Mountain Blessing Community” led by Dean Andrejs Mediņš, this has been a highly discussed topic. There is no shortage of views on this and many questions remain unanswered. The most important thing is the issue of rehabilitation opportunities for children and young people with addictions and behavioral disorders.
In response to information provided by a private individual about possible violations of children’s rights in Brukna manor, on August 20, the VBTAI and the Ombudsman’s Office re-examined.
During it, it was established that minors staying in Brukna manor are employed in field work for a disproportionately long time – the working day lasts 10-12 hours, but in case the minor has not fulfilled the set daily norm, the work continues also at night. In the case of violations, one of the types of punishment is the restriction of food intakes – children are forced to live on bread and water.
The police have also started administrative proceedings for emotional abuse of a child in Brukna manor. The State Police also continues to investigate possible violations of various kinds in the manor.
Several residents of the manor later testified about the violations in the association “Blessing Community of the Mountain” in the Brukna manor.
“The fact that these violations took place – physical and emotional abuse, starvation of children and over-employment – was confirmed to us by several children – at least four or five children, and they had the same testimony,” said Evija, Head of the Children’s Rights Department. Turnip.
She reveals that the physical violence was on the part of Andrejs Mediņš alone. He was beaten on the head, twisted behind his shirts, beaten on a solar plexus, and cursed rudely.
Several children have also said that public shame on others has also taken place during the service. Children working in the field were not allowed to go for meals or water outside meals. In the morning, drank strong coffee to wake up and have strength.
In order to verify the disclosed information, as well as to help assess whether it is necessary to initiate criminal proceedings, Prosecutor General Juris Stukāns appointed a prosecutor to supervise the investigation of the State Police (VP) in connection with the violations identified by VBTAI.
Minister of Welfare Ramona Petraviča, in her turn, noted that she had asked the prosecutor’s office to “follow” what was happening and pay attention to the fact that all the facts would be assessed in accordance with the law, not emotions. She also added that parental responsibility needed to be assessed because the services of the Mountain Blessing Community had not been properly registered.
However, the wickedness of the “Mountain Blessing Community” did not end with allegations of violations of children’s rights.
Andrejs Mediņš himself admitted at the press conference that Brukna manor has not been put into operation.
He said the “biggest goat” for the community is still a building inspectorate. “Only because the regulations do not recognize the work of alcoholics, drug addicts and suicides,” Mediņš claimed.
According to him, the responsible authorities were reluctant to take the manor house into operation because it was restored from the farm by members of the community and not by a construction company. “Shoot me, but I’m proud they built it,” the dean commented.
Also, the Latvian Television (LTV) program “Forbidden Method”, researching what is happening in the community of Brukna manor, revealed that the social service of the association “Mountain Blessing Community” is not registered.
The information at the disposal of the program shows that the community led by Mediņš has formulated work with children as a social service. In one case, it was used by the SOS village in Valmiera, from where a teenager came to Brukna.
There are two problems with this fact. Firstly, the question of payment. Mediņš claims that he did not charge a fee: “I do not sell for money! Neither addicts pay for anything here, nor children never pay here.”
However, Edijs Petersons, the head of the SOS village in Valmiera, confirms that the payment – 200 euros per month – has been: “There were months when yes. Then, when the bill came, we also repaid this service. We also had a contract with the community.”
The second problem: in order to officially offer a social service, a company or association or community must be registered as a provider of social services in the register of social services of the Ministry of Welfare. It also means certain requirements for educational staff, clearly defined working methods and also responsibilities. But there is no “Mountain Blessing Community” in the register.
In turn, the VBTAI turned to the Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) about possible violations in the provision of catering services at the boys’ school in Barbele and the “Blessing Community of the Mountain” in Brukna.
Examining the information, the service has found that no public catering company that would provide catering services to the “Blessing Community of the Mountain” is registered with the service. Also, according to the information available to the FVS, no children’s summer camp has been registered in Brukna manor, where catering services would be provided.
During the re-inspection at Bārbele Boys’ Primary School, the FVS did not find any violations.
Undeniably, what was happening in society provoked a heated debate. Several former residents of Brukna Manor hurried to discover their various experiences in the “Mountain Blessings Community”.
Mediņš’s work for the benefit of society, working with addicted people, was praised not only by the Roman Catholic Church in Latvia, but also by the director of Bārbele Boys’ Primary School.
She said that the public was concerned about the “anonymous and unverified complaint” to the VBTA, but did not see children being beaten and beaten in the neighborhood, that suffering was nearby. “We like to close our ears and our eyes,” said the head of the institution.
“Andrejs [Mediņš] we all have a big dad, “Bloom commented, inviting us to come with the hidden cameras to see how the children appreciate and enjoy the priest ‘s presence.
Juris Cālītis, an assistant professor at the University of Latvia, pastor of the Riga Reformed-Brothers Evangelical Lutheran Congregation and the Anglican Church and the founder and author of the idea “Zvannieku mājas”, also told Andrejs Mediņš on “RīgaTV24” he is one of the few, or even the only one in Latvia, who fights and wants to help people get rid of alcoholism “.
Pastor Cālītis believes that Brukna’s recipe for treating alcoholism is very simple, although he has not tested its effectiveness, but the hard work, where you have to get up early and go to bed late, acting, because a person, so tired, does not think about addictions, but not everyone can withstand this regime. “Andrejs would not be the one to employ children in this way, it would be useless,” Cālītis is convinced.
Mediņš himself said: “Although you can crucify me today. You can condemn me, accuse me and I will accept it with great love, because I do not want to be more true than God.”
He said the accusations of a 13-hour day and unavailable water were false. He explained that those who go to work in the field take water jars every morning.
“If a little tit is not lazily taken of the water, forgive me,” the dean said.
Video: Press conference at Brukna Manor on August 25
At a time when the case caused a wide resonance in society, the former residents of the manor began to comment on Mediņš’s methods in conversations with the media. While someone told the LTV program “Panorama” that the experience was bad and it was difficult for a weak person to “endure it both psychologically and physically”, Jānis, who came to the manor by accident, told the journalists of the channel “Re: TV” that “there was a lot of work, but in fact it was relatively easy. There were pauses when you could go out to drink or eat “.
He said that before starting work, Dean Mediņš had always chosen one person who was responsible for supervising other workers. Jānis admits that all the people he met there were kind and helpful.
The young person believes that the occupational therapy used in the community is very helpful for his peers to change. He has observed that young people are calmer and do not spend most of the day at computers or other smart devices.
However, a man entrusted the opposite opinion to the LTV program “Panorama”. He admitted that there was psychological pressure in Brukna manor.
“You have to be afraid of something all the time, that, say, you haven’t done enough or you’ve missed something. There, even at such extremes, you don’t know where to put your hands in the church anymore, or you have to keep them here, or you have to must be kept, “says the man.
The head of the “Adolescent and Youth Psychotherapy Center”, adolescent psychotherapist Nils Saks Konstantinovs, also told LETA that a teenager with behavioral problems, a long hard day’s work or water deprivation only has more difficulties.
“Such adolescents need to think more carefully about interventions, because a healthy and stable teenager can endure quite a lot, but a teenager who is already unstable in the psyche, has had various traumas and difficulties in life, should have a structured environment, taking into account professional knowledge and needs,” expert.
Several weeks later, on Wednesday, September 9, the State Labor Inspectorate (SLI) decided to terminate the proceedings related to the employment of minors in Brukna manor, as no violations were found.
The Inspectorate has also not found employed minors. Without establishing the fact that children are employed illegally in the manor, a decision was made to terminate the case. This decision will enter into force on 22 September, as it is in fact still possible to appeal.