During an 18-month probe, which ended in February, Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) says it found children near death, tied to cribs with open wounds, and covered in excrement, RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service reports.
The executive director of the group, Eric Rosenthal, said conditions in the facilities were the worst he's seen anywhere
in the world. He says treatment of the children violates international human rights law.
Rosenthal told RFE/RL the scenes he saw were "one of the most horrifying sights."
"Some of the children were in complete, full body restraints, held permanently with sheets around their bodies," he said. "When we asked to have the sheets removed, there were bedsores underneath, open wounds, many of them were soiled, covered in their own urine and feces, they screamed as they pulled up the sheets. It was truly one of the most horrifying sights I had ever seen."
The group is urging the EU to take action. The bloc is expected to announce soon whether Romania has completed necessary reforms, including on human rights, to qualify for membership.
Romanian health officials acknowledge problems, but deny widespread neglect. Bogdan Panait, junior minister in charge of youth protection, says Romania has made "major progress concerning children's rights."