One-Fifth of Croatians at Risk of Poverty

By 3 April 2018

ZAGREB, April 3, 2018 - Human Rights Ombudwoman Lora Vidović has submitted a report for 2017 to parliament, in which she warns that as many as one-fifth of Croatian citizens are living at risk of poverty and, along with the analysis and the assessment of the state of human rights, her office has made 231 recommendations to systematically eradicate problems in that regard.

Welfare benefits are insufficient to be able to satisfy basic life needs and the most vulnerable are the elderly who continue to live in exceptionally difficult conditions, the report notes. Positive changes are encouraging in the area of protection against domestic violence and economic exploitation, as well as announcements of the introduction of social pensions.

The report warns that distress proceedings are still not efficient or fair and generate additional debts making it more difficult to settle dues to creditors.

There are numerous situations with unequal access to rights, particularly for impoverished citizens, particularly when it comes to the judiciary and increasingly long waiting lists for health care.

Last year, for the first time, complaints about workers' rights accounted for the largest portion of complaints of discrimination. "Similarly to previous years, regardless of what area, the most represented complaints of discrimination were founded on ethnicity, particularly regarding the Roma and Serb national minorities as well as asylum seekers," the report said.

Representation of national minorities in the government and the judiciary is a right that is least respected and their representation continues to be below their share in Croatia's population which amounts to 7.67%.

Intolerance to different groups and opinions, unfortunately, remains dominant in the public sphere.

Last year, the ombudswoman's office unexpectedly visited several elderly citizens' homes and determined that they lacked qualified staff which impacts the quality of life for beneficiaries.