Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Combined ninth to fourteenth periodic reports submitted by Croatia under article 9 of the Convention, due in 2011 * , **
[Date received: 2 April 2020]
1.Pursuant to Article 9, paragraph 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter: the Convention), the Republic of Croatia hereby submits its periodic reports on the Implementation of the Convention for the Period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2018.
2.The report provides replies to comments made in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Periodic Reports of the Republic of Croatia (CERD/C/HRV/CO/8 of 5 March 2009) and the information related to the implementation of the articles of the Convention for the relevant period.
3.In the reporting period, the entire system of protection, respect and promotion of human rights has been improved by strengthening anti-discrimination laws and the institutions of the Office of the Ombudsperson, specialised ombudspersons and the Council for National Minorities.
4.The Working Group for the preparation of periodic reports on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination played an advisory role in the preparation of periodic reports, and consisted of representatives of relevant ministries, government offices, state administration bodies and public institutions.
5.The Draft Report was presented at a topical session of the Council for the Development of Civil Society.
II.Replies to comments in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
A.Paragraph 10 – Population census
6.Ethnicity data were collected in the 2011 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings, referring to all individuals comprising a total number of inhabitants. Pursuant to the Act on the Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia, an individual was able to freely declare his or her ethnic affiliation (the principle of self-identification). If in this rubric an individual identified in the sense of a regional, religious or any other affiliation, the enumerator was obliged to enter such an answer. If the individual did not wish to identify, the enumerator was obliged to enter “not declared”.
7.In accordance with the provisions of the above Act, national minority members were able to obtain the basic census forms in the language and script of the national minority they belong to. The gathering of data on ethnic composition of the population was carried out in accordance with the General Recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination VIII (1990) on Identification with a Particular Racial or Ethnic Group.
8.In comparison to the previous census, in 2011 an increase was observed in the number of individuals who identified as belonging to a region (primarily Istrians), followed by Bosniaks and Roma. The share of persons who identified as belonging to a region rose from 0.21% to 0.64%, the share of Bosniaks from 0.47% to 0.73% and Roma from 0.21% to 0.40% of the total population of the Republic of Croatia.
B.Paragraph 11 – Full implementation of the non-discrimination legislation and policies, especially at the local level
9.The basic national anti-discrimination law of the Republic of Croatia is the Anti-Discrimination Act ensuring the protection and promotion of equality as the highest value of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia. The provisions of this Act apply to the conduct of all state authorities, units of local and regional self-government, legal entities with public authority and all legal and physical entities.
10.The ombudsperson operates as a central anti-discrimination body. The Ombudsman Act strengthened the coordination of the ombudsman office’s with specialised ombudspersons and widened the scope of its authorities with regard to legal and physical entities, as well as its powers with regard to courts and to giving recommendations to government administration bodies with the aim of improving human rights protection.
11.In addition to its national legislation, the Republic of Croatia strengthened its anti-discrimination and human rights protection system with its strategic and operative documents such as the National Programme of Protection and Promotion of Human Rights for the period 2008–2011, the National Programme of Protection and Promotion of Human Rights for the period 2013–2016, the National Anti-Discrimination Plan for the period 2008–2013 followed by the National Anti-Discrimination Plan for the period 2017–2022.
12.In the elections for members of the Croatian Parliament held in 2011 and 2015, and in the early elections for members of the Croatian Parliament held in 2016, members of national minorities achieved appropriate representation. Eight members from national minority groups were elected to the Croatian Parliament in the special 12th constituency.
13.Following the regular local elections held in 2009, 2013 and 2017 and by-elections held in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017, representation of members of national minorities in representative and executive bodies of the local and regional self-government units (hereinafter: the LRSGU) was achieved in entirety.
14.On 31 December 2018, 155 representatives of national minorities, 277 national minority councils and 12 council coordination bodies and national minority representatives were entered in the Register of Councils, Co-ordination of Councils and Representatives of National Minorities, established in 2011.
C.Paragraph 12 – Combating racial discrimination and hate crimes
15.The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia under Article 39 stipulates that any call for or incitement to war or use of violence, to national, racial or religious hatred or any form of intolerance shall be prohibited and punishable by law.
16.The meaning of the phrase “hate crime” is defined under the provision of Article 87, paragraph 21 of the Criminal Code as “a criminal offence committed on account of a person’s race, colour, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Unless a more severe punishment is explicitly prescribed by this Code,” a hate crime “shall be taken as an aggravating circumstance”.
17.The Act on Amendments to the Criminal Code has added the category of “language” after the phrase “ethnic origin”. The Criminal Code sanctions racial and other discrimination through two categories of criminal offences: the criminal offence of violation of equality (Article 125) and the criminal offence of public incitement to violence and hatred (Article 325).
18.The criminal offence against equality is defined as providing another person with privileges or advantages in relation to the rights stipulated under Article 14of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. In addition, it is stipulated that punishment shall be inflicted on whoever persecutes individuals or organisations because of their commitment to equality.
19.Article 325 foresees a punishment on whoever publicly approves of, denies or grossly trivialises specific crimes (genocide, crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity or war crimes) “in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group”. Whoever organises or leads a group of three or more persons publicly inciting to violence and hatred shall be punished by imprisonment from six months to five years, while anyone associated with such a group shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding one year.
20.The Working Group for monitoring hate crimeshas been active since 2010. In 2011, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the Rules of Procedure in Cases of Hate Crimes in line with aims and measures from the National Programme of Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2008–2011.
21.In the course of the reporting period, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the National Programme of Protection and Promotion of Human Rights for the period 2013–2016, and continued a systematic approach to the protection and promotion of human rights involving a wide coverage of priority areas (30 priority areas, including the area of combating racial and other discrimination).
22.The Government of the Republic of Croatia also adopted other strategic documents to improve the anti-discrimination system: the National Anti-Discrimination Plan for the period 2008–2013 and the National Anti-Discrimination Plan for the period 2017–2022. In the National Plans, anti-discrimination measures, which are mostly carried out by state administration bodies, and the manner of monitoring and evaluating their implementation are defined.
23.In 2018 the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia (hereinafter GOHRRNM) introduced a campaign with recommendations on combating hate speech in the political arena, appealing to politicians to condemn every form of hate speech.
24.The Ministry of the Interior has provided training in combating hate crimes. The programme has been adapted and modified in accordance with the Croatian legislative and police practices, and 45 trainers/demonstrators have been educated. These are mainly police officers who work on combating terrorism and extreme violence, maintaining public order, and crime prevention, and lecturers from the Police Academy.
25.All 20 Police Administrations have been included in the training. The programme started in 2006, but is still being implemented in its revised form as Training for Law Enforcement against Hate Crime (TAHCLE), with Croatian experts participating in its realisation and providing professional assistance to other countries in the region. The programme includes continued co-operation with competent national authorities and non-governmental organisations.
26.Combating racial discrimination is incorporated in all education plans and programmes in all forms of police education, from basic police training and higher police education to specialisation and additional professional training of police officers.
27.As part of its training and education programme for public administration employees, the National School for Public Administration organises continued education focusing on the protection and promotion of human rights. Training on the prohibition of discrimination is conducted in co-operation with the Office of the Ombudsperson.
28.Starting in 2009, the Judicial Academy has organised training for judges and state attorneys aimed at combating discrimination.
D.Paragraph 13 – Free legal aid
29.It has been noted that the implementation of the Free Legal Aid Act needed to be improved and a new Free Legal Aid Act has been adopted accordingly. The procedure of granting primary legal aidhas been simplified in the new Act so that users can communicate directly with providers of primary legal aid. The financial requirements for granting primary and secondary legal aid have been simplified and relaxed with respect to previous legal provisions. As special types of secondary legal aid, the new Act provides for the exemption from costs of court proceedings and exemption from court fees, and the latter can be obtained in all court proceedings.
30.There are 49 associations and three law clinics authorised to provide primary legal aid registered with the Ministry of Justice. The funds for providing primary legal aid to authorised associations and law clinics are awarded based on a public tender. In making decisions on the allocation of funds, the extent of focus on the protection of members of national minorities during project implementation and the extent to which it is ensured that legal advice is accessible for this category of citizens are evaluated.
E.Paragraph 14 – Combating discrimination against Roma
31.According to the 2011 Census, there are 16,975 members of the Roma national minority living in the Republic of Croatia (0.39% of the total population), while according to the 2001 Census there were 9,463 declared members of the Roma national minority (0.21% of the total population). The significant increase is mostly the result of identification of members of the Roma ethnic group because of the implementation of national strategies and programmes aimed at the integration of Roma, and is close to the number of Roma obtained in surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018 when a total 24,524 members of the Roma ethnic group were identified in 4,599 households in 134 localities, across 15 counties in the Republic of Croatia.
32.One Member of Parliament, a representative of 12 less numerous national minorities (Austrian, Bulgarian, German, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Ruthenian, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vlach and Jewish) is elected to the Croatian Parliament, and since 2007 a representative of the Roma national minority has been elected for this seat.
33.In 2012, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma 2013–2020. The Strategy builds on several years of experience in the implementation of the policies of Roma integration (National Programme for Roma (2003) and the National Action Plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015) and it has been adapted to the needs and challenges related to the social inclusion of Roma at the local, regional, national and European levels.
34.The Strategy contains general and special goals set as guidelines for the creation of public policies directed at social and economic inclusion of Roma communities until 2020. In order to define the manner of implementing and monitoring the Strategy, action plans for its implementation have been compiled.
35.At the end of 2014, the GOHRRNM ordered an independent external evaluation of the Strategy and its accompanying Action Plan, prepared in co-operation with the UNDP, which is the basis for future activities related to the integration of Roma.The funds for the implementation of the Strategyhave been increased continuously.
36.In order to monitor the implementation of the Strategy and provide appropriate political significance to the issues of integration of members of the Roma ethnic group, the Government of the Republic of Croatia established a Strategy Implementation Monitoring Commission, the composition of which shows the high level of political support to the integration of Roma: the chairman of the Commission is a Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, while the vice chairman of the Commission is a representative of Roma minority in the Parliament. Other members of the Commission are in equal part members of key ministries and members of the Roma national minority.
37.In the area of education, the Ministry of Science and Education undertook the following measures/activities to achieve the goals set in the Strategy: co-financing of the parental share in the economic cost of preschool education/kindergartens, co-financing preschool programmes, providing Croatian language lessons to pupils with insufficient or no knowledge of Croatian, providing after-school stay, outdoor/nature classroom activities, school trips, summer schools, secondary school and university scholarships for Roma pupils, providing accommodation in secondary school and university dormitories, and co-financing literacy courses and education for Roma adults.
38.Owing to numerous measures undertaken by the Ministry of Science and Education and local stakeholders, the trend has continued of increase in the number of children of the Roma national minority in preschool education and programmes and in primary and secondary school systems, as well as of increase in the number of pupils in after-school stay.
39.The greatest number of Roma pupils follows a three-year secondary school programme, which in combination with a relatively low percentage of completion results in the relatively small number of Roma pupils. By providing scholarships and accommodation in pupil dormitories, preconditions were met for an increase in the number of Roma pupils of both genders who successfully complete secondary school.Educational authoritiesare continually making efforts to ensure higher quality of education, which includes professional training of primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, teaching assistants and Roma assistantsin primary schools.
40.Efforts have also been made in the area of lifelong learning, so that in 2018 a total of 475 persons attended the above programmes, of which 452 persons participated in literacy programme and 23 persons in the training programme for primary occupation. Other activities have been continuously undertaken as well, such as pupil transportation, after-school stay, organising additional and supplementary classes and extracurricular activities, summer camps and/or extracurricular activities aimed at social integration of Roma pupils, professional training of primary and secondary school teachers and teaching assistants with the aim of increasing the quality and effectiveness of education of members of the Roma national minority, including the purchase of equipment and learning resources.
41.The Croatian Employment Service (hereinafter: the CES) has continuously gathered data necessary to determine the number of unemployed persons who are members of the Roma national minority. A low level of education is the main aggravating factor in finding employment for members of the Roma national minority. All registered unemployed persons of the Roma national minority are included in regular CES activities and in the activities directed exclusively at members of the Roma national minority, including group information dissemination, individual counselling and workshops.
42.The CES undertook activities directed at the creation of a positive attitude of employers in order to facilitate employment of members of the Roma national minority, while employment counsellors visited targeted employers and held meetings with different stakeholders in order to improve employment and education opportunities of Roma.
43.The latest data indicate the success of these activities: in 2018 the number of unemployed Roma was reduced (3,541 persons in 2018 as opposed to 4,206 in 2017) and there was a positive increase in the number of activities the CES has continuously undertaken such as the measures promoting employment with a recorded growth of 18.98% in relation to the previous period and employment in the open labour market (851 persons in 2018 as opposed to 788 persons in 2017).
44.In the area of housing and construction, numerous activities have been undertaken to improve housing conditions and quality for Roma. Thus, from the budget of the Republic of Croatia funds were provided for drafting spatial plans, and in nine counties a total of 59 spatial plans were prepared and adopted for 60 localities with Roma settlers, while in four counties seven spatial plans are in the adoption stage.
45.Land owned by the Republic of Croatia as well as by local self-government units was donated and in several counties with a large number of Roma, since 2013, funds have been gathered for the procedures of legalising unlawfully built houses. For example, all costs of legalisation procedures for about 800 unlawfully built houses inhabited by Roma were paid for and by the end of 2018 40% of houses were legalised, providing socially disadvantaged members of the Roma ethnic group with a possibility of exemption from payment of building legalisation fees if these buildings were their only real estate.
46.As part of pre-accession aid from the European Union (PHARE 2005, PHARE 2006, IPA 2008) infrastructure building projects worth more than six million euro were implemented in six settlements in the Međimurje County with a total of about 6,000 inhabitants. The LRSGUs undertook activities to improve the housing situation of the Roma national minority. Of particular importance was the development of integrated pilot interventions which were planned by combining available funds (European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund) the target group of which, in the micro-region of Baranja, were members of the Roma national minority.
47.With regard to regular attendance of classes by Roma children, based on regular reports by social welfare centres, members of the Roma national minority use numerous general measures so that it is necessary to improve co-operation with primary schools and counselling work with parents and children in order to instruct parents on responsible parenting, and the obligations of the centres to protect the rights of children. Of special note is the project of the UNICEF and the Čakovec Social Welfare Centre aimed at the removal of prejudices towards fostering Roma children and encouraging Roma families to foster children.
48.Experts in social welfare centres have continued providing counselling and support in order to improve living conditions of the Roma population and to contribute to raising the awareness of the problems and to co-creating individual solutions for various difficulties faced by members of the Roma community. Especially highly esteemed is the individual and counselling work with beneficiaries, and the organisation of workshops dedicated to parental care quality improvement. as well as family empowerment in general.
49.With regard to status issues, in co-operation with representatives of Roma associations, primarily through the work of mobile teams providing information and legal aid, the Ministry of the Interior undertook activities with the aim of informing Roma of the legal framework of regulating their status in the Republic of Croatia.
50.In June 2013 the Act on Amendments to the Aliens Act entered into force and the by-laws stipulating the implementation of the Act were adopted, whereby, among other things, permanent residence may be approved under more favourable conditions. Amendments to the Aliens Act which came into power in July 2017 made easier the requirements for regulating permanent residence of third country nationals and for regulating temporary residence of members of the close family of Croatian nationals. By the Administrative Fees Decree, the fees in this administrative area were reduced or completely abolished. All these activities led to the resolution of a significant number of cases.
51.The National Roma Inclusion Strategy 2013–2020 focused especially on Roma women and young people, while the objectives and measures for the improvement of the social status of ethnic minority women and for the elimination of discrimination of Roma women were also included in the National Policy for Gender Equality.
52.The inclusion of the Roma national minority in cultural and social life is of extraordinary importance; the trend of improving the quality of programmes contributing to the preservation of their language and cultural identity has continued.
53.The World Roma Day, the World Day of Romani Language and the International Roma Genocide Remembrance Day / Samudaripen at the Roma Cemetery of Uštica at the Jasenovac Memorial Site were regularly celebrated with support from and participation by high-ranking representatives from the public and political life of the Republic of Croatia.
54.The programmes of construction and reconstruction of community centres and children’s playgrounds have continued. The Ministry of Culture and the Council for National Minorities have continued to provide support for the implementation of programmes of constructing, maintaining and equipping cultural institutions, and the music and performing arts programmes, the pursuit of cultural and artistic amateurism and international cultural co-operation. The GOHRRNM co-finances programmes preserving traditional Roma culture carried out by Roma folklore ensembles.
55.Of particular importance is linking of the historical experience of Roma in Europe with the promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination of Roma. As part of combating xenophobia and racism and promoting a positive image of Roma, research studies into the history of Roma, focusing on the suffering of Roma in the Second World War, as well as a public debate on the modern-day forms of discrimination were initiated, while financial support has been provided also for the development of the Uštica Memorial Centre and to the marking of other sites of mass killings of Roma in the Republic of Croatia.
56.The Republic of Croatia has demonstrated its dedication to the integration of members of the Roma national minority on many occasions also in the international context. While chairing the international initiative the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015, political frameworks and instruments such as the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 were highlighted from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 including the topics of education and of young Roma men and women.
57.During the Croatian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (May to October 2018), one of the priorities was particularly the effective protection of the rights of national minorities and vulnerable groups, including the issue of integration of members of the Roma national minority. The contribution was significant also when Croatia took part in the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
F.Paragraph 15 – War crime trials
58.When the Republic of Croatia closed Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and joined the EU on 1 July 2013, it showed its continued dedication to investigating and prosecuting war crimes because it fulfilled strict and all-encompassing criteria in accordance with recognised international standards of war crime trials.
59.Criminal proceedings for war crimes since 1991 are instigated by the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia. The Act on the Implementation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and Prosecution of Crimes against International Law of War and Humanitarian Law stipulated four special courts for war crimes with headquarters in four biggest county courts: in Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb. In accordance with the jurisdiction of the courts so defined, four special county state attorney’s offices were established, in Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb. Special departments for war crimes were established in these state attorney’s offices.
60.Since it was necessary to intensify and strengthen work of all institutions engaged in prosecuting war crimes, in February 2011, the Ministry of Justice adopted the Strategy for Investigating and Prosecuting War Crimes Committed between 1991 and 1995. In order to implement the Strategy, in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior and the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia, two operational documents were prepared: the Implementation Plan of the Ministry of the Interior and the Operational Programme of the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia.
61.In the period from 1991 to 2018, proceedings were instigated against 3,587 persons for war crimes, and 620 persons were convicted. The State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia keeps no war crime statistics with respect to ethnicity of perpetrators or victims.
62.Prosecution for war crimes is instigated based on clear and objective criteria, exclusively based on the principle of legality, which means regardless of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. Typical of the work on these cases is the absence of the accused, and very often also of witnesses. It is precisely due to the absence of perpetrators of war crimes that most cases in the past were prosecuted in absentia.
63.The Republic of Croatia implemented the Action Plan for the Review of in absentia Cases, which was adopted because of the oversights in previous prosecutions of war crimes in order to improve the standards of prosecution and their harmonisation with international practice.
64.In addition, amendments to the 2013 Criminal Procedure Act introduced new ways of ensuring public oversight of investigations, especially by broadening the scope of rights of victims / affected persons to participate in all stages of the proceedings, and especially by introducing the rights of victims/affected persons to file complaints in the case of postponement or other irregularities during the investigation.
65.The Republic of Croatia is undertaking activities directed at strengthening bilateral co-operation with other countries in the region. Taking into consideration that in the prosecutions of war crimes the accused, witnesses and evidence for the most part are located in the region, agreements were concluded on direct exchange of evidence and assistance precisely between the neighbouring countries.
66.The State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia organised regional conferences of state attorneys on the Brijuni Islands between 2007 and 2017 to discuss work on war crime cases. In addition to existing agreements and protocols, the public prosecutor’s offices of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia signed the Guidelines for Enhancing Regional Co-operation in War Crimes Processing, Search for Missing Persons and Establishment of a Coordination Mechanism to ensure continued and improved co-operation between the said judicial authorities in processing war crime cases.
67.The Republic of Croatia is a participant in the UNDP project entitled Enhancing Regional Cooperation in Processing of War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons (2017–2019) whose goal is to increase effectiveness and efficiency of co-operation between prosecutor’s offices in the countries established in the territory of the former Yugoslavia on war crimes processing and strengthening the capacity of searching for missing persons.
68.For the purpose of achieving more success in processing war crime cases, especially those whose perpetrators have not yet been discovered or processed, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunalsstrengthened co-operation with international organisations and enabled the continuation of the Liaison Officers project organised by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (hereinafter: IRMCT) and the UNDP.
69.The project has enabled the representative of the State Attorney’s Office at the Office of the Prosecutor of the IRMCT in The Hague to select information useful for the work on war crime cases from the data base of the International Court for War Crimes Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia, which contains a large amount of data and information.
70.From 2017 to 2018 the Upgrading the Case Tracking System (CTS) and War Crimes Data Base project was implemented; financed by funds from the IPA 2012 programme, it improved the War Crimes Data Base.
G.Paragraph 16 – Representation of national minorities
71.National minorities are guaranteed representation in the Croatian Parliament by law. At the parliamentary elections, appropriate representation of members of Parliament belonging to national minorities was achieved.
72.Out of eight members of Parliament representing national minorities, three are representatives of the Serbian minority, one is a representative of the Italian minority, one is a representative of the Hungarian minority, one is a representative of the Czech and Slovak minorities, one is a representative of Albanian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian and Slovenian minorities, and one is a representative of the Austrian, Bulgarian, German, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Ruthenian, Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vlach and Jewish minorities.
73.Representation of members of national minorities was also achieved in representative and executive bodies of LRSGUs (the right to the election of deputy municipal mayors, city mayors and county mayors from among members of national minorities).
74.National minority councils and representatives have also played an important role in the participation of national minorities in public life and governance of local affairs. Continuous activities have been undertaken to strengthen the capacity of these bodies; for example the GOHRRNM in co-operation with the Council for National Minorities and the Ministry of Public Administration has continuously organised seminars/consultations on the role and improvement of the work of the national minority councils and representatives at the local level, seminars on international instruments of protection of minority rights such as the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
75.In addition, the project entitled Support to Councils of National Minorities at the Local Level was implemented, which was aimed at providing preconditions for active participation of councils of national minorities in the implementation of monitoring the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities and in the development of minority local communities in the territory of the Republic of Croatia.
76.Every year the Government of the Republic of Croatia submits to the Croatian Parliament a Report on the Progress of Implementing the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities and the Utilisation of Funds Provided from the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia for the Needs of National Minorities.
77.The Ministry of Public Administration adopts a Civil Service Admission Plan for State Administration Bodies, Professional Services and Offices of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which shows the occupancy of posts in every state body (of civil servants and state employees) by members of national minorities, as well as planned employment of civil servants who are members of national minorities.
78.In order to increase the representation of members of national minorities, as part of every vacancy announcement procedure, the Ministry of the Interior trained members of the commission for the implementation of public or internal announcement of vacancies for the selection of candidates on the implementation of Article 22 of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities, and informed possible candidates / members of national minorities of the existence of the provision on employment precedence, referring them to the Ministry’s website.
79.In order to promote employment of members of national minorities in judicial bodies, from 2007 to 2010, the Ministry of Justice in co-operation with the OSCE organised 10 round tables. This practice was assessed as very motivating and useful, and it was decided to continue with activities also in other areas where national minorities are concentrated.
80.In the Republic of Croatia there are county coordinations for human rights which monitor the situation regarding human rights and rights of national minorities in the counties.
H.Paragraph 17 – Citizenship
81.The only criterion for admission to the Croatian citizenship is fulfilling the legal requirements prescribed by the provisions of the Croatian Citizenship Act regardless of nationality of the person submitting the request for admission to the Croatian citizenship. Every person submitting the request is guaranteed equal legal protection in the administrative procedure, and afterwards also special judicial protection.
82.In procedures for acquiring Croatian citizenship, the Ministry of the Interior shall offer necessary legal aid to all applicants in obtaining obligatory documents. Applicants are mostly Roma who are citizens of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, and who are legally considered nationals of these countries.
83.By implementing the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which was ratified by the Croatian Parliament, the country is trying to prevent statelessness from the youngest age. The Croatian Citizenship Act is, among other principles, based on the principle of reducing statelessness, which is implemented in particular through the provisions aimed at minors acquiring citizenship by origin or naturalisation and thus not becoming stateless.
84.Article 19 of the Act on Amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act which came into effect on 1 January 2012 stipulated that persons who were domiciled in the Republic of Croatia on 8 October 1991 and who had been granted permanent residence fulfil legal requirements regarding the length of their formally registered residence for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by naturalisation. Thus, this category of aliens was enabled to acquire Croatian citizenship under favourable legal requirements.
I.Paragraph 18 – Marriage
85.Under Article 169, the Criminal Code stipulates that, whoever forces another person to contract a marriage, and whoever entices a person to a country in which that person does not have permanent residence in order to force him or her to contract a marriage there, shall be punished by imprisonment.
86.Under Article 168 of the Criminal Code, criminal responsibility is stipulated for an authorised person before whom marriages are contracted, who enables the contracting of a marriage where not all statutory requirements for the existence and validity of the marriage have been complied with.
87.A marriage may not be contracted by a person who is not eighteen years old unless a court in a non-litigation procedure allows the contracting of marriage to a person who is sixteen years old, if the court determines that the person is mentally and physically mature enough to marry and that there is a good reason for the contracting of the marriage.
88.A motion for the adoption of a decision about allowing the contracting of a marriage may be filed only by the minor who intends to get married. In the procedure of adopting a decision about allowing the contracting of a marriage of a minor submitter of the motion, the court will hear the minor submitter of a motion, the minor’s parents or guardians, as well as the person with whom the minor intends to contract a marriage, obtain the opinion of the social welfare centre, and examine the circumstances important for the decision.
89.During the reporting period projects and campaigns were undertaken aiming at raising the awareness of young Roma women of their rights, including the awareness of forced marriages and the problems of underage marriages. For example, in 2016/17 the Roma Heart association of Roma women carried out the Get Married when you are Ready project, which addressed the problem of arranged and forced marriages of girls between the ages of 9 and 15 in Roma communities. In 2017 the Međimurje County provided education and information to the Roma population with special focus on women with regard to the problems of different forms of discrimination and violence against women.
J.Paragraph 19 – Return of refugees and displaced persons, and reintegration of returnees
90.In order to resolve the problem of returnees, there has been an improvement in the laws and regulations. In the reporting period the Act on Areas of Special State Concern and the Reconstruction Act have been amended, the Decree on Requirements for Determining and Losing the Status of Refugee, Displaced Person and Returnee, and the Decree on Eligibility of Former Tenancy Right Holders and Members of their Families, and on the Conditions and Procedure Applicable to their Housing, were adopted. In addition, the Act on Housing Care in Assisted Areas was adopted in 2019.
91.In 2013 the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing Care assumed the affairs related to the planning, preparation, organisation and supervision of housing care for refugees, displaced persons and returnees who are former tenancy right holders, as well as for other housing care beneficiaries.
92.Amendments to the Act on the Status of Refugees and Displaced Persons, and the Decree on Requirements for Determining and Losing the Status of Refugee, Displaced Person or Returnee stipulated in detail the requirements for obtaining the status of displaced person and the rights stemming from this status (financial assistance and healthcare).
93.The Decree also prescribed that the procedure of determining the status of returnees for former tenancy right holders and members of their families who filed a request for housing care and returned to the Republic of Croatia is initiated ex officio, that is, applicants do not need to file a request to determine their status. The requests in these cases are resolved outside the priority housing list, which should be stressed as an example of positive discrimination; thus, the majority of requests filed was resolved by the end of 2018.
94.The Republic of Croatia participates in the Regional Housing Programme. This is a multiannual programme aimed at resolving the housing needs of the most threatened categories of refugees and internally displaced persons. It is based on the 2011 Joint Declaration signed in Belgrade by the ministers of foreign affairs of partner countries: the Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia.
K.Paragraph 20 – Sustainable development of areas of special state concern
95.The Regional Development Act foresees linking development incentives exclusively with the development index. In accordance with this Act, the Strategy of Regional Development of the Republic of Croatia until 2020 and the Action Plan for the period 2017–2019 for the Implementation of the Strategy of Regional Development of the Republic of Croatia until 2020 have been adopted.
96.The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds undertakes national measures to achieve uniform regional development of all areas of the Republic of Croatia in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and social inclusion, as part of the development priorities of the Strategy of Regional Development of the Republic of Croatia until 2020.
97.Within the framework of different programmes 1,704 projects were co-financed for which 505.8 million kuna was allocated from the state budget in the period from 2015 to 2018. The programmes co-finance public utility and social infrastructure projects (for example uncategorised roads, pavements, local waterworks and sewage networks and so on) which cannot be financed from European funds or other sources. In the period from 2007 to 2014 a total of 2,849 projects were co-financed for which 6.5 billion kuna of public non-refundable grants were allocated.
98.The Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds carried out the Programme for Financing Improvements to the Social, Communal and Economic Infrastructure, which supports economic and social revitalisation of areas under the jurisdiction of local self-government units ranked among the first four groups according to the development index values and with more than 5% of the population made up of members of national minorities. As part of this Programme a total of 17.1 million kuna was allocated for a total of 78 projects.
99.The Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing Care has since 2013 been in charge of implementing housing care in the areas of special state concern as stipulated by the Act on the Areas of Special State Concern. In 2019, the Act on Housing Care in Assisted Areas came into effect. The intention of the Act is to provide housing solutions to persons who do not have anywhere to live with the aim of demographic and economic reconstruction of the less developed areas in the Republic of Croatia.
100.The eligibility criteria for housing care have never been determined based on national, religious, racial or any other affiliation, nor is membership in any group a requirement for or an obstacle to achieving the right to housing care in the regular procedure.
101.During the reporting period, the financing of the Programme of Integrated Physical, Economic and Social Regeneration of Small Towns in War-affected Areas has been provided from the European Structural and Investment Funds and the state budget in order to improve the quality of life in specific areas. Five pilot areas were selected: Vukovar, Knin, Petrinja, Benkovac, and Beli Manastir and Darda municipality(because of a significant share of Roma minority).
102.In addition, as part of the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014–2020, a poverty map and an index of multiple deprivation were compiled with the aim of improving expert knowledge on poverty data monitoring in the Republic of Croatia in order to precisely define geographic areas most affected by poverty and to better distribute budget and EU funds dedicated to the reduction of regional inequality and poverty in these areas.
L.Paragraph 21 – Promotion of tolerance
103.The Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media, which promotes the production and publication of audiovisual and radio programmes and content of television and/or radio broadcasters at the local and regional level, non-profit television and/or radio broadcasters and non-profit media services, also finances the production and publication of programmes of public interest, among others, for the category of the National Minorities in the Republic of Croatia programme.
104.Furthermore, the contractbetween the Croatian Radio and Television (hereinafter: the HRT) and the Government of the Republic of Croatia stipulates the obligation for the HRT to produce, co-produce and broadcast informative programmes for national minorities in the Republic of Croatia in the languages of national minorities, including children’s programmes in the languages of national minorities. The HRT sends annual reports to the Council for National Minorities on programmes and stories produced and broadcast on members of national minorities in the Republic of Croatia.
M.Paragraph 22 – International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
105.Taking into consideration the wider European context, but also the implementation of appropriate protection of migrants on the national level, the Republic of Croatia did not accept the recommendation related to the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
N.Paragraph 23 – Implementation of the Durban Declaration
106.Before the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Republic of Croatia did not have a complete law regulating issues of combating discrimination in a uniform way, and anti-discrimination provisions were included in several regulations; the Anti-Discrimination Act, as a general law (lex generalis), by applying a conceptual approach and harmonising individual institutes, regulates the problems of combating discrimination in a unique manner.
107.In the course of the reporting period the institutional and judiciary frameworks have been improved with the aim of improving protection against discrimination (as described under Paragraph 11 herein and later under Article 2 and Article 7).
O.Paragraph 24 – Optional declaration under Article 14 of the Convention
108.Regarding the preparation of the optional declaration under Article 14 of the Convention, which leaves to the state party the option of recognising the competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications (claims) from individuals or groups within its jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation by that State Party of any of the rights set forth in the Convention, it is necessary to stress that the Republic of Croatia has a complete national legal framework for individual claims in the area of human rights, including violations of rights whose protection falls under the Convention.
III.Report on the implementation of articles of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination
A.Article 2 – State policies and practices related to combating all forms of racial discrimination
109.The Anti-Discrimination Act forbids discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic affiliation, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social origin, property, trade union membership, education, social status, marital or family status, age, health condition, disability, genetic heritage, gender identity, expression or sexual orientation.
110.The Act defines the concept of discrimination, its forms, scope, mechanisms of court protection, competence of the ombudsman and of specialised ombudspersons, and a very important instrument has been introduced on the transfer of the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant.
111.The institution of joint legal action enables associations, bodies, institutions or other organisations having a justified interest in protecting the interests of a certain group to bring legal action against a person who violated the right to equal treatment of a larger number of persons. Another important institution introduced in a litigation based on legal action is an intervener who in a discrimination case may join the side of the plaintiff.
112.Every year the Ombudsman prepares a report in which he or she provides an analysis and assessment of the situation regarding the protection of rights and freedoms in the Republic of Croatia and submits recommendations for eliminating systematic omissions and irregularities, as well as an assessment of the degree to which competent authorities respected and applied recommendations from previous reports. The grounds most frequently appearing in the citizens’ claims are ethnic affiliation and national origin, while the most represented in discrimination claims are the areas of labour and employment.
113.The National Plan for Combating Discrimination for the period 2017–2022 is a strategic document in which the Government of the Republic of Croatia set down the priorities and goals for further development towards a complete anti-discrimination system and strengthening public awareness of the right to equal treatment, while the Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Plan for Combating Discrimination for the period 2017–2019 laid down specific measures.
114.The degree to which the Action Plan goals have been achieved and the measures – including those from the area of racial discrimination – implemented is monitored through regular implementation reports.
115.Other relevant documents forming the legal and political framework in the area of combating discrimination are as follows: the Action Plan for the Integration of Persons Who Have Been Granted International Protection for the period from 2017 to 2019, the National Policy for Gender Equality for the period from 2011 to 2015, the National Youth Programme for the period from 2014 to 2017, the National Strategy on the Rights of Children 2014–2020, the Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2014–2020), the National Strategy of Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2017–2020, the Strategy of Social Welfare for the Elderly in the Republic of Croatia for the period from 2017 to 2020, the Strategy for the Development of Female Entrepreneurship in the Republic of Croatia for the period from 2014 to 2020 and the National Strategy for the Development of Healthcare 2012–2010.
116.The former Criminal Code, which was in effect until 1 January 2013, contained the criminal offence of racial and other discrimination (Article 174), which sanctioned any violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms denying to an individual or to groups and institutions what is legally available to everyone, and doing so on the basis of a difference in race, gender, colour, national or ethnic origin, while disrespecting the laws of the international community.
117.Perpetrators of this criminal offence could have been individuals, official or other authorised persons, groups, associations, organisations, institutions and so on, that is, physical and legal persons. A legal person was held responsible for such a criminal offence in accordance with the Act on the Responsibility of Legal Persons for Criminal Offences.
118.With respect to the issue of combating racism and discrimination, the new Criminal Code of 2013 focused particularly on aligning with the grounds set out in Article 1 of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on Combating Certain Forms and Expressions of Racism and Xenophobia by Means of Criminal Law, ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on National Legislation to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination in the part related to criminal law, and Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
119.As one of the principles of criminal procedure, the Criminal Procedure Act forbids discrimination based on race, ethnic affiliation, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social origin, financial status, trade union membership, education, social position, marital or family status, age, health status, disability, genetic inheritance, gender identity, expression or sexual orientation.
B.Article 3 – Condemnation of segregation
120.The Anti-Discrimination Act recognises segregation as a form of discrimination and defines it under Article 5 therein. Consequently, segregation is a forced and systematic separation of persons on any grounds of discrimination.
121.Activities undertaken to prevent segregation of the Roma national minority, with special focus on housing and education, are described under Paragraph 14.
C.Article 4 – Condemnation and prevention of racist propaganda and racist organisations
122.Under Article 87 paragraph 21, the Criminal Code defines hate crime as a criminal offence committed on account of a person’s race, colour, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Such conduct shall be taken as an aggravating circumstance. Thus, a hate crime was not defined as a separate criminal offence, but it was a general provision linked with any criminal offence committed out of hatred against another person for reasons referred to in the provision mentioned above.
123.In addition, according to the general rule on the determination of the type and severity of punishment set out by Article 56, paragraph 2, racist or xenophobic motivation as a motive for committing a criminal offence could have been considered an aggravating circumstance when determining the sentence.
124.In the Special Part of the Criminal Code, in some criminal offences, for example in the criminal offence of bodily injury, serious bodily injury, particularly serious bodily injury, serious bodily injury resulting in death, female genital mutilation, coercion, threat, serious criminal offences against sexual freedom, and provoking riots, committing a criminal offence out of hate is defined as a qualifying circumstance for a more severe punishment. In other cases, the circumstance that a criminal offence was committed out of hatred is taken as aggravating.
125.In 2011 the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the Protocol for Procedure in Cases of Hate Crimes in order to improve the system of monitoring hate crimes with the purpose of prescribing the requirements for the effective and comprehensive work of the competent bodies who participate in discovery, proceedings and monitoring the results of proceedings conducted for hate crimes.
D.Article 5 – Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights
1.The right to equal treatment before the courts and other judicial organs
126.The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Article 26) stipulates that all citizens of the Republic of Croatia and aliens shall be equal before the courts and other state bodies vested with public authority. The proceedings before the courts are regulated by the Courts Act which has since 2005 been amended many times because of the intention of the legislator to provide the best possible protection of the above right and achieve better efficacy of the courts. The new Courts Act, adopted in 2013, brought many novelties such as the protection of the right to trial within reasonable time.
2.The right to personal safety and protection from violence and bodily harm by civil servants, any other persons, groups or institutions
127.The Act on Police Affairs and Powers stipulates that every police officer must respect the dignity, reputation and honour of every person, as well as other fundamental human rights and freedoms. The Ordinance on the Conduct of Police Officers regulates the conduct of police officers.
3.Political rights, in particular the right to take part in elections, the right to vote and be a candidate – based on the general and equal right to vote, the right to participate in the government as well as in the administration of public affairs at all levels, and the right of access to public services under equal conditions
128.With respect to representation of members of national minorities and their participation in making decisions at the national level, since 1991, members of national minorities have continuously had a specific number of seats in the Croatian Parliament, guaranteed and ensured by law. These rights are regulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities and the Act on the Elections of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament.
129.The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia under Article 15 stipulates that equal rights shall be guaranteed to members of all national minorities, and the same article prescribes that, over and above general suffrage, the right of the members of national minorities to elect their representatives to the Croatian Parliament may be stipulated by law.
130.The Act on the Elections of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament stipulates the above right in such a way that the members of national minorities in the Republic of Croatia shall have the right to elect eight representatives to the Croatian Parliament, who shall be elected in a separate constituency being the territory of the Republic of Croatia (the 12th electoral district).
4.Other civil rights, in particular
The right of free movement and choice of residence within state borders
131.With the aim of regulating the issues of residence and work of aliens in the Republic of Croatia and further harmonisation with the European acquis, in 2011 a new Aliens Act was adopted which came into effect on 1 January 2012. In order to further harmonise the Aliens Act with the EU acquis, the Act was amended in June 2013, July 2017 and May 2018.
The right to leave the country and the right to return to one’s country
132.The provision under Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia stipulates that anyone who is lawfully within the territory of the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy freedom of movement and freedom to choose his/her residence.
The right to citizenship
133.The Croatian Citizenship Act regulates acquisition and termination of Croatian citizenship. The law regulates the ways of acquiring Croatian citizenship by origin, by birth within the area of the Republic of Croatia, by naturalisation or pursuant to international treaties. The right to citizenship is described in more detail in Paragraph 17.
The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
134.The freedom of conscience and religion, and the freedom to demonstrate religious or other conviction shall be guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Article 40). Pursuant to Article 17, if individual constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights are restricted during a state of war or any clear and present danger to the independence and unity of the state, or in the event of any natural disaster, the extend of such restrictions must be appropriate to the nature of the threat, and may not result in inequality of citizens with respect to race, colour, gender, language, religion or national or social origin.
135.Pursuant to Article 41 of the Constitution, all religious communities shall be equal before the law and separate from the state. Religious communities shall be free, in compliance with law, to publicly conduct religious services, open schools, colleges or other institutions, and welfare and charitable organisations and to manage them, and they shall enjoy the protection and assistance of the state in their activities.
136.The issues of freedom of religion, free and public expression of religion and performing religious rites by religious communities and their rights are regulated by the Act on the Legal Status of Religious Communities.
137.All religious communities, even if they have not concluded an agreement with the Government of the Republic of Croatia, have the right to provide pastoral care to their members in medical and social-welfare institutions, penitentiaries and prisons, and in the Armed Forces, in accordance with the Healthcare Act, the Execution of Prison Sentences Act and the Ordinance on the Service in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia.
138.To date, the Republic of Croatia has concluded four international agreements with the Holy See: on legal matters, on the spiritual guidance of the Catholic people, members of the armed forces and police, on co-operation in the areas of upbringing and culture, and on economic issues.
139.The Government of the Republic of Croatia has concluded eight agreements on issues of common interest with churches and religious communities, and in this way has regulated relations with another 19 churches and religious communities. Churches which have regulated relations with the Republic of Croatia may teach religious courses in schools and teach religion in preschool institutions, and can celebrate marriage in religious form with the effects of civil marriage, and they receive regular annual financial support from the state budget.
Right to freedom of thought and expression
140.Under Article 38 of the Constitution, freedom of thought and expression shall be guaranteed. Criminal offences against honour and reputation stipulated in the Criminal Code are insult, defamation and intentional defamation. The Act also comprises provisions on instituting criminal proceedings for criminal offences against honour and reputation, and on public announcement of judgements for criminal offences against honour and reputation.
141.Pursuant to Article 47 of the Constitution, conscientious objection shall be allowed for all those who, based on religious or moral conviction, are not willing to perform military duties in the armed forces.
142.The Criminal Code (Article 130) sanctions denial or limitation of the freedom of conscience and religion, the freedom to publicly profess one’s religion or other belief. Punishment shall be inflicted also on whoever denies a religious community which operates in accordance with the law the right to equality with other religious communities in the Republic of Croatia or denies or limits it the rights to publicly hold religious services, found and run schools, learning institutions, institutes, social or charitable institutions.
Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association
143.The Constitution stipulates that everyone shall be guaranteed the right of public assembly and peaceful protest. The Public Assembly Act regulates the concept of public assembly and the rights, obligations and responsibilities of the organisers and participants of public assembly. The Criminal Code (Article 128) sanctions denial or limiting of the right of assembly or the right to peaceful protest organised in accordance with the law. In addition, Article 129 of this Law sanctions denial or limiting of the right to form political parties, trade unions or other associations, and to join or withdraw from their membership in accordance with the law.
144.The new Associations Act has improved the legal framework for activities of associations, and regulates the founding, legal status, activities, registration, financing, property, liability, status changes, supervision, dissolution of associations with legal personality, as well as the registration and discontinuance of foreign associations.
5.Economic, social and cultural rights
Right to work
145.The employment and legal status of foreigners in the Republic of Croatia is regulated by the Aliens Act which stipulates that an alien may work in the Republic of Croatia based on an issued stay and work permit or work registration certificate, unless otherwise stipulated by the Act.
146.A stay and work permit may be issued based on the annual quota and outside the annual quota. The Government of the Republic of Croatia adopts a decision on the annual employment quota which sets out the activities and occupations in which new employment is allowed, the number of work permits for every activity and occupation, as well as the quota for seasonal employment.
147.The Croatian Employment Service undertakes employment and training measures for groups that are hard to employ, including foreigners with the asylum status and under subsidiary protection.
The right to form trade unions and membership
148.The Labour Act stipulates that workers have the right, according to their own free choice, to found and join a trade union, subject to only such requirements which may be prescribed by the articles of association or internal rules of this trade union.The Anti-Discrimination Act identifies the area of membership and activities in trade unions, civil society organisations, political parties or any other organisations as a separate area in which discrimination is prohibited.
The right to housing
149.During the reporting period activities were undertaken to improve housing conditions of the Roma population (as shown in Paragraph 14), provide housing to refugees and returnees, and reintegrate returnees (as stated in Paragraph 19).
150.In order to improve the asylum system and harmonise it with the best EU practice, the Republic of Croatia amended its laws and undertook other activities to develop administrative and technical capacity such as increasing the accommodation capacity for asylum seekers, as well as training of officials working on asylum affairs and increasing their number.
151.During the reporting period the Asylum Act was in force until 1 July 2015, after which the Act on International and Temporary Protection came into effect. Both the Action Plan for Removing Obstacles to the Exercise of Individual Rights in the Area of Integration of Foreigners for the period from 2013 to 2015 and the Action Plan for the Integration of Persons Who Have Been Granted International Protection for the period from 2017 to 2019 stressed how important it was to continuously implement measures that prevent and oppose discriminatory conduct directed against foreigners, also in the area of housing.
152.In accordance with the Act on International and Temporary Protection, asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection have the right to accommodation for a maximum period of two years from the date on which the decision approving international protection is served, if they do not possess financial means or property to support themselves. The decision on the accommodation is rendered by the social welfare centre in the place of domicile of an asylee and a foreigner under subsidiary protection, while accommodation is secured in housing units which are property of the Republic of Croatia and in housing units leased for this purpose. Accommodation costs shall be paid for from the state budget.
153.In accordance with the Social Welfare Act, accommodation is provided for unaccompanied children who are foreign citizens. In order to improve the cross-sectoral co-operation and the conditions of housing unaccompanied children, the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Ombudsman for Children compiled the Rules of Procedure with Children Separated from Parents – Foreign Citizens in the Republic of Croatia which the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted in 2013.
The right to health, medical assistance, social insurance and social services
154.The Republic of Croatia has a comprehensive system of social protection which enables vulnerable categories of population the realisation of a series of rights in accordance with the Social Welfare Act, as well as the improvement of their social status by implementing specific measures, for example the Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Croatia (2014–2020).
155.All persons residing in the Republic of Croatia and foreigners to whom permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia has been granted have the right to compulsory health insurance unless otherwise stipulated by an international agreement or a special law.
156.In the area of healthcare, measures directed at the entire population of the Republic of Croatia are continuously undertaken, and special measures are undertaken with the aim of improving the health and health protection of the Roma population.
157.Systematic work was carried out on increasing the scope of population covered by the health insurance system, accessing health services and improving the health of Roma infants and children, while providing health education to parents and carrying out preventive and curative measures of health protection. The data provided by a survey of databases indicate a high percentage of people covered by the health insurance system, that is 92.8% of persons surveyed said they had a valid health card.
The right to education and professional training
158.The right of members of national minorities to education in their language and script is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities and the Act on Education in the Languages and Scripts of National Minorities.
159.The education of members of national minorities is carried out based on three models of organising and implementing teaching: Model A based on which the complete curriculum is carried out in the language and script of the national minority, but with the obligation of learning the Croatian language; Model B based on which teaching is bilingual, and Model C based on which teaching is in Croatian, but there are additional lessons intended to teach (promote) the language and culture of a particular national minority.
160.As part of the overall curricular reform, the drafting of the curriculum proposal entitled the Language and Culture of Roma National Minority in Primary and Secondary Schools of the Republic of Croatia (Model C) was begun in order to enable pupils of the Roma national minority to learn their mother tongue. The draft foresees the possibility of sitting for exams in the language and script of a specific national minority, that is, in the language and script in which the members of a national minority were educated.
161.The National Pedagogical Standards enable pupils to choose the most favourable model of studying in the language and script of a given national minority. Professional training and education are continuously provided for preschool, primary and secondary school teachers teaching in the language and script of national minorities either in the Republic of Croatia or in the mother country of the minority. Such training counts for Continuous Education credits enabling advancement to the rank of a teacher advisor or a teacher mentor.
162.The Ministry of Science and Education co-finances summer schools organised for members of national minorities in the Republic of Croatia and in the mother country of the national minority, and annually releases public tenders for awarding funds to associations of national minorities that organise special courses for pupils who are members of national minorities in the Republic of Croatia.
163.In addition to summer schools and professional training of preschool, primary and secondary school teachers at the state level in the Republic of Croatia and the mother countries, special courses for national minorities are co-financed (literary, drama and other extra-curricular activities of pupils in primary and secondary schools).
164.In accordance with international human rights agreements and EU directives related to the education of migrant children and adults, legal acts have been amended that regulate the right to education of asylees, seekers of international protection, foreigners under subsidiary protection and foreigners under temporary protection, third country nationals staying illegally in the Republic of Croatia, children of migrant workers, children who do not speak or have insufficient knowledge of Croatian, children for whom education in the Republic of Croatia is obligatory and who have residence in the territory of Croatia and children who continue their primary or secondary school education in Croatia.
165.The Act on Education in Primary and Secondary Schools enables attendance of primary school classes to seekers of international protection, asylees, foreigners under subsidiary protection and foreigners under temporary protection. Foreigners who reside illegally in the Republic of Croatia shall be enabled to attend primary school classes if they are housed in the reception centre for foreigners, if enforced repatriation has been temporarily postponed or – if a deadline has been set for their return – until this deadline.
166.Textbooks and accompanying additional learning materials (atlases, workbooks and/or problem books) will be co-financed for pupils/children/young people who have been granted asylum and foreigners under subsidiary protection whose families are beneficiaries of a guaranteed minimum benefit. The funds for this are provided by the Government of the Republic of Croatia by a special decision.
167.In 2018, as part of the project co-financed by the National Programme of the Fund for Asylum, Migration and Integration, a survey was conducted entitled the Challenges of Integrating Refugees into Croatian Society: Attitudes of Citizens and the Readiness of Local Communities. The goal of the survey was to identify attitudes of citizens and their readiness to accept and allow integration of third-country nationals granted international protection and to determine the challenges and needs of the LRSGUs in the asylee integration process. Based on the results of the survey a list was compiled for asylees which is used for self-assessment of the needs and the degree of satisfying them.
The right to participate in cultural activities under equal conditions
168.The right to cultural autonomy of members of national minorities is prescribed under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities. Members of national minorities may establish associations, foundations, endowments and institutions for conducting activities of public communication, cultural, editorial, museum, archiving, librarian and scientific activities with the aim of preservation, development, promotion and expression of their national and cultural identity.
169.During the reporting period the Ministry of Culture co-financed national minority programmes in the areas of archiving activities, visual arts and innovative artistic cultural practice, purchasing of books, support for publishing books and magazines, literary events, music and performing arts, cultural and artistic amateurism, dramatic arts, international cultural co-operation, cultural heritage protection (the protection of movable and immovable monuments of culture). These programmes involved investment grants and computerisation of cultural institutions.
170.In addition, the Ministry of Culture has issued calls for submission of project proposals in order to provide support for projects contributing to the promotion of equal opportunities, gender equality and non-discrimination; members of national minorities have also participated in their implementation.
171.In order to make art and culture accessible to children and young people, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Education launched an artistic educational programme at the state level entitled A Backpack (Full) of Culture – Art and Culture in Kindergartens and Schools, for the period between 2015 and 2020. To date, more than 25,000 children and young people have taken part in the programme and more than 100 towns and municipalities from assisted areas with a low development index have participated in various programme activities. Kindergartens and schools with a majority of children who are members of national minorities have been included in the programme. For two kindergartens and two schools in Zagreb and Zadar that were reportedly attended by the largest number of children of seekers of international protection, in 2018, A Backpack (Full) of Culture for Children of Asylum Seekers was designed and several workshops were held.
172.The Council for National Minorities distributes to associations and institutions of national minorities funds from the State Budget allocated for the needs of national minorities and for carrying out programmes of cultural autonomy of national minorities, which include information and publishing, cultural amateurism and events, programmes stemming from bilateral treaties and agreements, and programmes that create preconditions for the realisation of cultural autonomy of national minorities.
173.In the period 2007–2018, funds in the amount of 434,851,360.00 kuna were allocated from the State Budget for programmes of cultural autonomy of national minorities. In the same period, the amount of 8,422,000.00 kuna was allocated to provide material conditions for achieving cultural autonomy. Since 2013, the funding has been directed primarily at the Roma national minority in accordance with the obligations set in the National Programme for Roma and the Action Plan of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015.
E.Article 6 – Judicial protection
174.The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia guarantees the right to legal remedy under Article 18 Paragraph 1, and this right is the fundamental element of the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms of every man and citizen.
F.Article 7 – Measures taken to overcome prejudice and discrimination
175.During the reporting period many campaigns, conferences, seminars, round tables and workshops were organised and various activities undertaken at national, regional and local levels with the aim of raising the awareness of the public, experts and special target groups regarding human rights, non-discrimination and rights of minorities. For example, since 2008, the Republic of Croatia has taken part in the Council of Europe campaign entitled Enough!, aimed at raising awareness regarding prejudice and stereotypes related to Roma and combating all forms of discrimination.
176.In addition, seminars for media publishers, editors and civil society representatives have regularly been organised, while the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media has awarded funds to create programmes intended for national minorities.
177.The Government of the Republic of Croatia has been especially devoted to co-operation with civil society organisations. Thus, since 2002, the Council for the Development of Civil Societyas an advisory body of the Government has continuously participated in monitoring and analysing public policies that are related and/or influence the development of civil society in Croatia.
178.Members of the Council are representatives of both the state administration bodies and the civil society organisations from various sectors continuously developing cooperation and financing the associations’ programmes and projects aimed at protecting human rights and rights of national minorities, as well as the promotion of tolerance and combating discrimination.
179.After the Anti-Discrimination Act came into force on 1 January 2009 and the Office of the Ombudsperson took up the central role in its implementation, as part of the PROGRESS project entitled Support for the Implementation of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the GOHRRNM in co-operation with the Office of the Ombudsperson and the Centre for Peace Studies undertook a comprehensive national public awareness raising campaign aimed at the problem of discrimination and at familiarising the citizens with the institution in charge of combating discrimination. That is when the first survey on attitudes and the level of awareness of discrimination and the forms of discrimination was conducted and published. The Office of the Ombudsperson conducted another similar survey in 2012.
180.Since 2011, The Key Difference award has been presented to employers in order to recognise and promote those employers who support diversity and fight discrimination in the work environment through best practices.
181.Since 2012, seminars and education workshops on the Anti-Discrimination Act have been organised and carried out for representatives of regional and local self-government units, public services, county coordinations for human rights, coordinators for gender equality and commissioners for ethics and human rights from the state administration bodies.
182.Since 2015, trainings on anti-discrimination legislation and EU policies intended for employees in management and control systems of EU funds have been conducted. Trainings have been conducted in the National School for Public Administration, organised by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds and the Ministry of Labour and Pension System.
183.The Ministry of Public Administration completed the implementation of the IPA TAIB (Transition Assistance and Institution Building) project entitled Support for Effective Implementation of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities, establishing an e-system for monitoring the implementation of the national minority rights from the remit of the Ministry of Public Administration, realised at the level of the LRSGUs.
184.Citizenship Education (hereinafter CE) based on human rights was gradually introduced into the education system. In the period between 2010 and 2014, the Ministry of Science and Education launched and produced the curriculum, and following a public debate, it adopted the Decision on the Programme of Cross-Curricular and Interdisciplinary Content of Citizenship Education in Primary and Secondary Schools. Its obligatory implementation in all primary and secondary schools started in the school year 2014/2015.
185.The CE Curriculum places major focus on respecting human rights and combating discrimination by determining human rights, intercultural, social and political dimensions of civic competences, systematically developed from the first year of primary school to the end of secondary school. The Education and Teacher Training Agency intensified professional training and prepared primary and secondary school teachers for CE Curriculum implementation by training 56,289 teachers by 2018.
186.As part of the Comprehensive Curricular Reform, new curricula were prepared for interdisciplinary topics of Citizenship Education, Personal and Social Development, Use of Information and Communications Technology, Sustainable Development, Entrepreneurship, Health and Learning how to Learn, and at the end of 2018 public consultations were completed on draft decisions on adopting the curricula for the aforementioned interdisciplinary topics for primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Croatia to be implemented from the school year 2019/2020 on.
187.The interdisciplinary topics as part of the new curriculum are being implemented on an experimental basis in 76 primary and secondary schools included in the experimental programme School for Life. In addition to being implemented interdisciplinary, the Citizenship Education Programme is implemented through the entire school curriculum as part of the home room classes, as well as through different school projects and other activities. In a small number of primary schools, the programme is conducted experimentally as a separate optional subject in year eight classes following their application to a public call released by the Ministry of Science and Education. Other educational materials for pupils, as well as trainings and materials for primary and secondary school teachers are being prepared.
188.The Ministry of Science and Education in co-operation with the Education and Teacher Training Agency is especially keen to promote education in universal and generally accepted values and human rights in the Croatian education system (solidarity, freedom of speech, non-discrimination, pluralism, democracy, the rule of law, tolerance, equality) by organising expert meetings for primary and secondary school teachers, assistants and directors as part of the programme of continued professional development. Expert meetings for teachers on the topic of Learning about the Holocaust and the Prevention of Crimes against Humanity have also been organised.
189.In 2018 there were 50 expert meetings organised for preschool, primary and secondary school teachers teaching in the language and script of national minorities. Every year, the Education and Teacher Training Agency organises a project showcase in the area of the National Programme for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship Education for pupils of primary and secondary schools.
190.The Ministry of Science and Education has continuously financed projects of associations active in the area of extra-institutional education of children and young people in the area of protection and promotion of human rights.
191.Along with incentives at the national level and numerous programmes and activities at the regional and local level, significant state budget funds are provided to support the work of associations of national minorities as part of the Operational Programmes for National Minorities, where most activities have to do with promoting and respecting cultural diversity and are focused also on the general population, and not only on members of national minorities.
List of relevant regulations and regulations quoted in the report
1.Criminal Code (Official Gazette Nos. 125/11, 144/12, 56/15, 61/15, 101/17 and 118/18)
2.Ordinance on the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media (Official Gazette Nos. 150/13 and 2/17)
3.Ordinance on the Conduct of Police Officers (Official Gazette Nos. 89/10 and 76/15)
4.Ordinance on Leasing of Housing Units (Official Gazette No. 25/19)
5.Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions (Official Gazette Nos. 135/15 and 61/19)
6.Ordinance on Conditions and the Manner of Exercising the Right to Accommodation of Asylees, Foreigners under Subsidiary Protection and Foreigners under Temporary Protection and Participation of Asylees, Foreigners under Subsidiary Protection and Foreigners under Temporary Protection in Paying Such Costs (Official Gazette No. 3/16)
7.Ordinance on the Method of Implementing Programmes and Assessment of Knowledge of Asylum Seekers, Asylees and Foreigners under Temporary Protection and Foreigners under Subsidiary Protection for the Purpose of Accessing the Educational System of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette No. 89/08)
8.Ordinance on the Implementation of Preparatory and Supplementary Classes for Students with Insufficient Knowledge of the Croatian language (Official Gazette No. 15/13)
9.Ordinance on Taking the State Graduation Exam (Official Gazette Nos.1/13 and 41/19)
10.Ordinance on the Priorities of Reconstruction and Subsidies for Furnishing Family Houses and Flats (Official Gazette No. 68/00)
11.Ordinance on the Service in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette No. 91/09)
12.Ordinance on the Accommodation of Asylum Seekers, Asylees, Foreigners under Subsidiary Protection and Foreigners under Temporary Protection (Official Gazette Nos. 36/08 and 116/11)
13.Programme for the Return and Accommodation of Displaced Persons, Refugees and Resettled Persons (Official Gazette No. 92/98)
14.Administrative Fees Decree (Official Gazette Nos. 8/17, 37/2017, 129/2017, 18/2019 and 97/2019)
15.Decree on Eligibility of Former Tenancy Rights Holders and Members of their Families, and on the Conditions and Procedure Applicable to their Housing (Official Gazette No. 133/13)
16.Decree on Requirements for Determining and Losing the Status of Refugee, Displaced Person and Returnee (Official Gazette No. 133/13)
17.Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette Nos. 56/90, 135/97, 8/98, 113/00, 124/00, 28/01, 41/01, 55/01, 76/10, 85/10 and 5/14)
18.Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities (Official Gazette Nos. 155/02, 47/10, 80/10, 93/11 and 93/11)
19.Asylum Act (Official Gazette Nos. 79/07, 88/10 and 143/13)
20.Act on International and Temporary Protection (Official Gazette Nos. 70/15 and 127/17)
21.Free Legal Aid Act (Official Gazette Nos. 143/13 and 98/19)
22.Civil Servants Act (Official Gazette Nos. 92/05, 140/05, 142/06, 77/07, 107/07, 27/08, 34/11, 49/11, 150/11, 34/12, 49/12, 37/13, 38/13, 01/15, 138/15, 61/17, 70/19, 98/19)
23.Electronic Media Act (Official Gazette Nos. 153/09, 84/11, 94/13 and 136/13)
24.Croatian Citizenship Act (Official Gazette Nos. 53/91, 70/91, 28/92, 113/93, 4/94, 130/11, 110/15 and 102/19)
25.Act on the Elections of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament (Official Gazette Nos. 116/99, 109/00, 53/03, 69/03, 167/03, 44/06, 19/07, 20/09, 145/10, 24/11, 93/11, 120/11, 19/15, 104/15 and 98/19)
26.Execution of Prison Sentences Act (Official Gazette Nos. 128/99, 55/00, 59/00, 129/00, 59/01, 67/01, 11/02, 190/03, 76/07, 27/08, 83/09, 18/11, 48/11,125/11, 56/13, 150/13 and 98/19)
27.Public Assembly Act (Official Gazette Nos. 128/99, 90/05, 139/05, 150/05, 82/11 and 78/12)
28.Local Elections Act (Official Gazette Nos. 144/12, 121/16 and 98/19)
29.Act on Local and Regional Self-Government (Official Gazette Nos. 33/01, 60/01, 129/05, 109/07, 125/08, 36/09, 36/09, 150/11, 144/12, 19/13, 137/15, 123/17 and 98/19)
30.Lease of Flats Act (Official Gazette Nos. 91/96, 48/98, 66/98, 22/06 and 68/18)
31.Reconstruction Act (Official Gazette Nos. 24/96, 54/96, 87/96, 57/00, 38/09, 45/11, 51/13 and 98/19)
32.Act on Education in the Languages and Scripts of National Minorities (Official Gazette Nos. 51/00 and 56/00)
33.Act on Education in Primary and Secondary Schools (Official Gazette Nos. 87/08, 86/09, 92/10, 105/10, 90/11, 5/12, 16/12, 86/12, 126/12, 94/13, 152/14, 7/17, 68/18 and 98/19)
34.Act on the Responsibility of Legal Persons for Criminal Offences (Official Gazette Nos. 151/03, 110/07, 45/11 and 143/12)
35.Act on Liability for Damage Caused by Terrorist Acts and Public Demonstrations (Official Gazette No. 117/03)
36.Identity Card Act (Official Gazette No. 62/15)
37.Act on Areas of Special State Concern (Official Gazette Nos. 86/08, 57/11, 51/13, 148/13, 76/14, 147/14, 18/15 and 106/18)
38.Act on Police Affairs and Powers (Official Gazette Nos. 76/09, 92/14 and 73/13)
39.Act on the Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette No. 92/10)
40.Act on the Legal Status of Religious Communities (Official Gazette Nos. 83/02 and 73/13)
41.Residence Act (Official Gazette Nos. 62/15 144/12 and 158/13)
42.Act on the Implementation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and Prosecution of Crimes against International Law of War and Humanitarian Law (Official Gazette Nos. 175/03, 29/04, 55/11 and 125/11)
43.Act on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons (Official Gazette Nos. 157/13, 152/14 and 39/18)
44.Act on Travel Documents of Croatian Citizens (Official Gazette Nos. 77/99, 133/02, 48/05, 74/09, 154/14 and 82/15)
45.Labour Act (Official Gazette Nos.62/15 93/14, 127/17 and 98/19)
46.Gender Equality Act (Official Gazette Nos. 82/08 and 69/17)
47.Act on Regional Development of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette Nos. 147/14, 123/17 and 118/18)
48.Act on the Register of Councils, Co-ordination of Councils and Representatives of National Minorities (Official Gazette Nos. 80/11, 34/12 and 98/19)
49.Social Welfare Act (Official Gazette Nos. 62/15 157/13, 152/14, 99/15, 52/16, 16/17, 130/17 and 98/19)
50.Sports Act (Official Gazette Nos. 71/06, 150/08, 124/10, 124/11, 86/12, 94/13, 85/15, 19/16 and 98/19)
51.Act on Housing Care in the Assisted Areas (Official Gazette Nos. 106/18 and 98/19)
52.Aliens Act (Official Gazette Nos. 130/11, 74/13, 69/17 and 46/18)
53.Courts Act (Official Gazette Nos. 28/13, 33/15, 82/15, 82/16 and 67/18)
54.Anti-Discrimination Act (Official Gazette Nos. 85/08 and 112/12)
55.Associations Act (Official Gazette Nos. 74/14, 70/17 and 98/19)
56.Act on the Use of the Languages and Scripts of National Minorities in the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette Nos. 51/00 and 56/00)
57.Healthcare Act (Official Gazette No. 100/18)
58.Same-Sex Life Partnership Act (Official Gazette Nos. 92/14 and 98/19)
List of Annexes
Annex 1. Number of members of national minorities – state officials, civil servants and state employees
Annex 2. Population by ethnicity – detailed classification – 2011 Census
Annex 3. Criminal offence of racial and other discrimination 2007–2018
Annex 4. Table of distribution of funds from the State Budget for programmes of cultural autonomy of national minorities 2007–2018