Government Opinion on Human Rights Report Short, With Fewer Responses to Recommendations

By 21 December 2019

ZAGREB, December 21, 2019 - Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said on Saturday the government's opinion on her report for 2018 had never been shorter and with fewer responses to the report's recommendations.

Of the 209 recommendations, the government did not state its position on nearly half and only 26 were accepted fully or in part, Vidović said on Croatian Radio, adding that the government's opinion came in early November, seven months after she submitted her report on the state of human rights.

Vidović said the recommendations were based on citizens' complaints and that the point of the report was not her telling the government what it wanted to hear or agreeing with it on everything, but to oversee and analyse the state of human rights and make concrete proposals on how to improve it.

"It's very bad to be defensive and to look on the report as an attack or criticism because the common goal of my office and the government is that the state of human rights in Croatia be better," she said.

To a large extent, Croatia's problems are similar to those in other EU member states but in some segments the situation in Croatia is below average, notably concerning the perception of the judiciary, which is the worst in the EU. Healthcare indicators are deteriorating as is elderly poverty, which stands at 28% in Croatia, as against 15% in the EU.

Vidović warned about unfavourable data on hate speech, the treatment of migrants and rising inequality.

Big problems include poverty, the social exclusion of vulnerable groups such as singles, pensioners close to the poverty threshold and elderly Serbs in rural parts of the country.

Speaking of migrants, Vidović said the authorities responded quickly to queries but that the answers were superficial, taking account only of the position of police and not the other side. She added that state prosecutors investigated such complaints.

Her 2018 report, submitted in March, was based on 5,082 complaints submitted by, among others, the public authorities, civil society organisations, trade unions, employers, universities, churches and religious organisations.

More news about human rights in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.