Human Rights Watch Praises and Criticizes Croatia

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Some positives and negatives for Croatia from Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch has published its World Report 2016 which provides an overview of human rights in more than 90 countries around the world, from the end of 2014 to November 2015. During that period, according to Human Rights Watch, more than 440,000 migrants and asylum seekers have passed through Croatia. Almost all of them stayed in Croatia for a very short period of time before they continued their journey to Hungary (until it closed its borders) and Slovenia. Croatia had difficulties coping with their basic needs, says HRW, pointing out that it occasionally closed its border crossings with Serbia and introduced restrictions on crossing the border for some nationalities, reports Tportal on January 28, 2016.

Since 2006, asylum in Croatia has been requested by less than 5,000 people, and by July 2015 only 165 people had received some form of protection. In 2015, asylum was granted to only 32 people, the report says. “People who have long been waiting for asylum and refugees are facing difficulties in accessing housing, health care and education. Unaccompanied migrant children are still being placed in homes for children with behavioural problems and shelters for adults without appropriate custody or special protection”, says HRW.

Although Croatian government has made some progress in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, Human Rights Watch notes that the guardianship system still does not allow for about 18,000 people with disabilities to make their own decisions about their lives.

The implementation of plan for deinstitutionalization from 2011 is progressing very slowly and does not include persons with disabilities in psychiatric hospitals and homes for adult education. In September 2015, more than 7,500 people have been institutionalized in Croatia. The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April called on the Croatian government to ensure that the Croatian laws protect the rights of persons with disabilities, reminds HRW.

Croatian courts still have to solve more than 220 cases of war crimes, the report adds. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in February that Croatia had violated the right to a fair trial for a person with dual Croatian and Serbian citizenship convicted in absentia for war crimes but which had not been granted a retrial.

The UN Human Rights Committee adopted in April conclusions regarding Croatia, expressing its concern due to discrimination and violence against members of minorities, especially Roma and Serbs. Serbs who were stripped of their tenancy rights during the war are still faced with difficulties in using the government’s program from 2010 which allows them to purchase real estate at prices more favourable than the market prices.

Roma people have special difficulties with accessing basic government services, such as health care, social assistance and adequate accommodation. Their children are de facto segregated in the education system, warns HRW.


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