ZAGREB, December 10, 2018 – NGOs promoting human rights on Monday warned of the deterioration of human rights in Croatia, saying ethnic and other minorities rights are increasingly in danger, as are women’s rights as well as the rights of the majority which, due to poor social and economic conditions, cannot have a dignified life.
Speaking at a press conference, Ivan Novosel of the Human Rights House Zagreb underlined the importance of observing the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said the stagnation of the development of the human rights in Croatia was evident since the country joined the EU in 2013.
“For several years now, Croatia hasn’t had a key public human rights policy, a national human rights protection and promotion policy or a gender equality strategy. Especially worrying is the low level of knowledge about human rights because there’s no systematic civic education,” said Novosel.
Speaking of migrants, he said increasing hate speech contributed to the spreading of fake news. He said some politicians were using this to score points in the year before elections for the European Parliament and Croatia’s presidential vote.
Ana Vračar of the BRID NGO said austerity measures were mostly reflected in social protection budget cuts and that this was often an obstacle to healthcare and dignified living. She said there was a trend of relying on uncertain jobs, that the pension reform would bring many to the risk of poverty and that healthcare was constantly under strong privatisation pressure. “All of that seriously undermines the majority’s quality of living.”
Svjetlana Knežević of the B.a.B.e. NGO said the human rights of the majority were increasingly threatened, not just those of minorities. She added that women must again fight for their rights, saying they were discriminated against at work, in politics, the economy, education, culture and as well as the family life.
Recent years saw “fierce attacks” on women’s reproductive and sexual rights as well as conservative groups’ resistance to the Istanbul Convention, she said, adding that women in the European Union earn 16.2% less than men, whereas in Croatia the pay gap is 11.3%, while the pension gap is over 20%.
Sara Lalić of the Centre for Peace Studies said refugees on the EU’s and Croatia’s borders were being illegally driven away on a daily basis, denied the basic human right to seek protection. She voiced concern about the low level of rights of the Serb and Roma ethnic minorities as well as the LGBT community, saying the state was not doing enough to protect the rights of children and persons with disabilities.
Željka Leljak Gracin of Green Action underlined the problem of climate change, saying the loss of natural resources was mostly felt by the poorer part of the population.
More news on the human rights in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.