US State Department Criticizes Human Rights Situation in Croatia

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US administration warns about corruption, social discrimination, violence against minorities…

Social discrimination, violence against members of ethnic minorities, women and children, and corruption are the biggest problems in human rights violations in Croatia, the US State Department announced in its Human Rights Practices report for 2016. Still, the government has taken some steps in prosecution and punishment of individuals who violate human rights, the report says, reports Večernji List on March 4, 2017.

“Parliament rejected the 2015 report of the ombudsperson for human rights, marking the first time in the country’s modern history that the ombudsperson’s report was rejected based on its content. The report detailed incidents of hate speech, violations of minority rights, restrictions on media freedom, and other abuses that occurred during the tenure of the previous government. The ombudsperson warned that parliament’s decision not to endorse the report imposed political pressure on the independence of ombudsperson’s office and cast the vote to advance an ideological agenda”, reads the report.

Overcrowded prisons, court delays, unresolved issues of restitution, political interference in the work of government agencies for human rights, these are just some of the areas of concern mentioned with regards to Croatia.

Anti-Semitism, inconsistent prosecution of attackers on members of the LGBT community, discrimination in employment by gender, sexual orientation, towards people with disabilities, violations of workers’ rights, including the non-payment of wages, are areas that the State Department has also pointed out as a problem in the field of human rights in Croatia.

The problem of the return of property to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia has still not been solved. “There have been no restitutions of Jewish communal property since 2014, although several such requests were pending”, the report says.

In the chapter of ​​media freedoms, the report for 2016 mentions the attack on journalist Ante Tomić, pressure from the government on the work of the Council for Electronic Media. It is also reported that the then newly elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ivan Tepeš led a march of between five to seven thousand people in Zagreb against the decision of the Council for Electronic Media to temporarily ban broadcast of Z1 television due to hate speech against Serbs. Some protestors used the Ustasha salute, the report says.

The Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media visited Croatia and wrote that “not a single top politician from the governing coalition condemned the clear attempt – based on crude ethno-politics – to harass and intimidate an independent media regulatory body”. Reference is also made to the fact that the government has proposed the dissolution of the Council and that its director Mirjana Rakić resigned under “unbearable pressure”.

“Corruption remains a problem in Croatia”, states the report that mentions the assessment of the European Parliament that the greatest risk is in the area of public procurement.

Ombudsperson for Gender Equality has repeatedly expressed concern for victims of sexual violence who do not file their complaints due to the fear of reprisals.

In the context of anti-Semitism, the reports mentions the football match between Croatia and Israel, where fans chanted Ustasha slogans, as well as the decision of Jewish communities to boycott the official commemoration at Jasenovac, due to their dissatisfaction with the government downplaying the crimes of the Ustasha regime.

In the chapter on discrimination on ethnic and religious grounds, the report mentions discrimination against Serbs and Roma. “The number of reports of discrimination and hate speech against Serbs has increased”, the report says. Discrimination against Roma and their social exclusion remain a problem in Croatia where the government uses a series of measures to encourage their employment, education and housing, the report says.


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