UN Warns Croatia about Abortion, Contraception and Sex Education

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UN Rapporteur on the right to health spoke about situation in Croatia.

Croatia has a good chance to become an inclusive society, but should avoid a selective approach which discriminates against certain groups and favours others, said on Tuesday UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Puras, reports Index.hr on December 6, 2016.

“Croatia has made efforts to set up a system for respecting the right to health”, said Puras at the end of his first official visit to Croatia, urging the Croatian government to continue to go forward without implementing regressive measures. “The existing deficiencies must be removed, but it seems that the political will is there.” During his nine-day visit, he noted that, despite the problems stemming from the war, transition and the financial crisis, Croatia has strengthen its health policies and services in order to achieve a sustainable health system.

As for the mental health sector, Puras warned that about 4,200 people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities continue to live as hostages of the system of institutional care, despite efforts to provide them with services in the community. “The success of pilot projects with the aim of deinstitutionalization, such as the Osijek Centre the Provision of Services in Community, is still not enough to achieve real change in the system”, said Puras. “The system of mental healthcare still largely relies on biomedical intervention and psychiatric hospitals.”

“Croatia must not stagnate and should take over good practices of deinstitutionalization that are in accordance with human rights”, he stressed. “With political will of authorities at national and county level, as well as with the expertise of civil society and the support of EU funds, Croatia has an incredible opportunity to end the sad legacy of institutional care and the systematic violation of human rights in mental healthcare system.”

As for the rights to sexual and reproductive health, Puras expressed his concern about regressive measures that impede access to safe abortion and contraception, undermine comprehensive sex education appropriate to age, and favour the rights of the family at the expense of women’s rights and children’s rights. “The right to sexual and reproductive health is a human right and therefore regressive measures that hinder its realization are human rights violations according to international regulations”, said Puras. “I appeal to all stakeholders in Croatia to oppose any attack on universal principles of human rights”, he said. “When applied in a systematic way, human rights provide a solid foundation for the successful realization of the right to health and other rights of all people in Croatia”, he added.

“Croatia has come a long way after the Homeland War and now as a member of the European Union and a new member of the UN Human Rights Council cannot afford to regress or stagnate in terms of promoting and protecting human rights for all”, he said. “Human rights are not only an issue of the commitment of the state, but also something which is important to the full realization of the rights and welfare of all people in Croatia as human beings”, concluded Puras.

Puras visited Croatia at the invitation of the government. He met with senior government officials, members of Parliament, representatives of the Constitutional Court, international organizations and civil society organizations. He visited various healthcare facilities, mental health centres in Zagreb, Osijek and Split. He also visited a secondary school, a shelter for asylum seekers, and a Roma neighbourhood in the capital.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present a full report on his visit to Croatia at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.


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