Another annual report of the US State Department on human rights.
Social discrimination and cases of violence against ethnic minorities, women and LGBT community, as well as government corruption were the biggest problems for the respect of human rights in Croatia, according to the US State Department which published its report on human rights in 2015, reports Index.hr on April 14, 2016.
Other problems include overcrowding in some prisons, judiciary system delays, unresolved issue of restitution of property, anti-Semitism and isolated cases of expressing pro-fascist feelings and human smuggling.
The government in 2015 took significant steps in the prosecution and punishment of individuals who violated human rights, the State Department says. For the government, the priority was resolving the issue of missing persons from the war. There are still 1,573 such persons, according to the State Department, and the Croatian authorities are seeking the cooperation of neighbouring countries in locating mass graves.
Although there was progress during the year, the government has failed to implement the restitution of property seized during World War II and the period of Communist rule. This also applies to the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Jewish Communities in Croatia.
The government respected the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and media. The independent media were active and published different views without limitation. While the government did not interfere in the media, there is a lack of transparency about the ownership of some of them.
In 2015, there were several cases of anti-Semitism in Croatia. State Department lists as an example the swastika drawn on the Poljud stadium. It adds that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and then Prime Minister Zoran Milanović condemned the incident, but that the culprits have not been found.
There are also cases of discrimination against Serbs and Roma. The emphasis is on the case with the introduction of Cyrillic signs in Vukovar which sparked protests, says the State Department, but the government firmly defended the Cyrillic signs as required by law.
While the government effectively enforced the law on the prevention of corruption in the government, the problem still existed, the State Department says. The government generally respected judicial independence, but it suffered from the accumulated backlog of cases.
Numerous national and international human rights groups operated freely and the government did not place obstacles in the publication of their reports on human rights violations. Government officials met regularly with representatives of non-governmental organizations and cooperated with them. The government respected the prohibition of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, sexual or gender orientation, age and social status.
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Police responded to reports of violence against the LGBT community, but the problem is the ambiguity of criminal law against the perpetrators.
The treatment of prisoners was generally humane, but in some prisons overcrowding remained a problem. The State Department notes that in 2015 there was a progress in this segment compared to the previous year.