Saturday, 27 March 2021

Public Ombudswoman: Reports Are Like a Physical, Sometimes it's Not Pleasant

ZAGREB, 27 March 2021- The new Public Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter has said that she regrets the parliament's still not having discussed three annual reports in her office, comparing those reports to a physical, which, she says, is sometimes unpleasant but shows what needs to be fixed.

She says that police conduct towards migrants is a severe problem in Croatia and other EU countries and stresses that prosecutorial authorities must investigate all complaints.

Šimonović Einwalter says that her predecessor Lora Vidović has done an excellent job.

She also condemns out-of-turn vaccination against COVID-19 and believes that the process of post-earthquake reconstruction is too slow and hampered by excessive red tape.

Asked how she explains the fact that the parliament has still not discussed reports by her office for the last three years, she says that she does not know why there has been no discussion about the accounts for 2018 and 2019, but that she will see to it that no longer happens because those reports are like a physical, which one should undergo regularly.

Sometimes a physical is not pleasant, but it points to problems that we as a state need to deal with more, and it shows which areas need additional checks and what the therapy is. That needs to be taken seriously. One has to do what needs to be done, Šimonović Einwalter says, noting that the question as to why the previous reports have not been discussed yet should be put primarily to the parliament.

"I must warn about the repercussions of their not being discussed, the main one being a decrease in the rate of acceptance and implementation of the office's recommendations, from 67% in 2017 (the parliament discussed report for that year) to around 20% for accounts from 2018 and 2019, which have not been consulted on time."

Asked if the parliament should vote on the Public Ombudswoman's reports, she said that considering the practice in other European countries, it should not, as such statements were rarely put to the vote in other European countries. The parliament should discuss those reports, but an option is not necessary. They are not laws that need to be adopted but reports by an independent institution on the human rights situation, with recommendations that need to be discussed and applied.

Asked about some MPs describing her predecessor Lora Vidović as ideologically biased and as having leveled unfounded accusations against police over their treatment of migrants, Šimonović Einwalter said that the office deals with human rights, prevention of discrimination, equal access to justice, the rule of law, and promotion of laws and legal practice and that she intends to do just that.

She said that she was aware that there were different views on some controversial issues but that she hoped that future discussions on her reports in the parliament would focus on issues of importance to citizens and that politics would be understood as work for the familiar good party one-upmanship.

Asked about objections that Vidović dealt too much with the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" and singer Marko Perković Thompson compared to other problems that she had detected, Šimonović Einwalter said that Vidović had done an excellent job, setting priorities according to what she believed were essential problems.

Some topics are imposed by a particular time and specific events, noting that media, too, were interested more in particular issues, which could cause an impression that only those topics were being addressed.

That is one more reason to present the public ombudswoman's reports in the parliament and have them discussed so that the scope of problems citizens encounter can be seen.

The 2020 report of the Office of the Public Ombudswoman again cites complaints about the police treatment of migrants, including one cruel act, and says that the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor (DORH) did not act on any of those reports.

Asked about this, Šimonović Einwalter said that the treatment of migrants is a severe problem, not only in Croatia but also in the EU.

The Office of the Public Ombudswoman does not have information that DORH has acted on the complaints reported in the 2020 report, except in a case concerning Nigerian students (who arrived in Croatia for a sports competition, claimed that they had student visas but were deported by Croatian police to Bosnia and Herzegovina). Croatia should investigate cases that may constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. This should be done by DORH regardless of who may be responsible for the offense, she said.

Asked about the public perception that the Office of the Public Ombudswoman constantly suspects police and that citizens seem to trust the police more than the ombudswoman, Šimonović Einwalter said that this was not a matter of whom to trust, but rather that investigations had to be carried out to see what had happened.

We want access to information on police conduct towards migrants as we do in cases of other people. What we insist on is an independent investigation in cases of complaints concerning police conduct, she said.

I think that it is absolutely the police force's role to protect the border, which citizens agree with. Still, I also believe that most citizens would decide that they do not want police to beat and abuse migrants and foreign media to report that, Šimonović Einwalter said, adding that that was why a proper investigation was crucial.

They asked about the ongoing campaign of vaccination against COVID-19. If it was good that politicians got vaccinated first, Šimonović Einwalter said that the public vaccination of ministers and MPs at the start of the vaccination campaign made sense as its purpose was to encourage people to get vaccinated.

The situation has changed since due to interest in vaccination exceeding the available amount of vaccines, she said, adding that she condemned the behavior of those who used their office to get vaccinated out of turn.

The lack of transparency, wherever there is a lack of transparency, is abuse, she said.

Asked about the main problems faced by citizens whose properties were damaged in last year's earthquakes, notably in Zagreb, Šimonović Einwalter said that Zagreb's changes were too slow, and people mainly complained about excessive red tape in the process of reconstruction. Some positive steps have been made, she said, about an e-system enabling the faster collection of documents required for post-earthquake reconstruction but added that the process was still very complicated and slow.

One year after the Zagreb earthquake, some people from Čučerje and Markuševec (where the epicenter of the earthquake was) still live in housing containers and hostels, and reconstruction will not be completed soon, she said.

Asked about objections that her office has too many employees, 53, Šimonović Einwalter said that the office had the mandates to act as the office of the public ombudsman, the national institution for the protection of human rights, the central body for the prevention of discrimination, the national mechanism for the supervision of prisons, penitentiaries, and psychiatric institutions, and the institution protecting whistle-blowers.

If that is taken into account, the number of employees is not high, she said.

Asked if her office had wrapped up the procedure in the case of a Rijeka cafe owner who recently said that members of the ruling HDZ party were not welcome in his establishment, Šimonović Einwalter noted that the procedure was being finished and that the office would soon finalize its opinion.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Ombudswoman: Institutions Fail to Protect Children Against Violence

ZAGREB, April 11, 2020 - Croatian state institutions in 2019 failed children when it comes to protection against violence, Children's Ombudswoman Helenca Prinat Dragičević says in a report on her work last year.

She says that the dramatic increase in domestic violence from 2018, measured both by the number of domestic violence complaints and the number of reports of violence against children required urgent and effective measures to protect children.

The ombudswoman calls for coordinated action and consolidation of institutions that work on protection against violence as well as hiring more professionals.

Analysing last year, Pirnat Dragičević says that some children died or their life was in danger due to their parents' negligence, and in that context singles out the case of a father on the island of Pag who threw his four children off a balcony.

The year 2019 was marked by a sudden rise in child mortality caused by deaths in traffic accidents as well as by problems in the education system that culminated in a long teachers' strike.

Eighteen children were killed in traffic accidents, 203 sustained serious injuries and 1,100 light injuries, Pirnat Dragičević says.

She goes on to say that her office received almost 10% more complaints compared to 2018, opened 1,741 new cases, and acted in 933 cases, which, she says, had been carried over from previous years due to their complexity.

The office received 97 reports of domestic violence, 35 more than in 2018. Violence was most frequently reported by parents - in 35 cases by mothers, in 15 cases by fathers, and in 17 cases by institutions such as schools and kindergartens.

The ombudswoman also expresses concern about acts of cruelty against children.

The extensive report also says that close to 2,200 children could not meet and spend time with the other parent or did so for a shorter period of time than ordered by the court, the reason being manipulative behaviour on the part of the parent with whom the child lives.

The ombudswoman notes that in numerous cases there was no urgent and coordinated action by state institutions to protect such children.

As regards the strike of primary and secondary school teachers from October 10 to December 2, Pirnat Dragičević says that her office received 72 written complaints and several dozen phone calls by parents, children as well as teachers concerning breaches of children's right to education.

The complaints raise a number of questions regarding the timely provision of information to children on the suspension of classes, making up for classes lost, children's right to free time, and organisation and implementation of school-leaving exams, she says.

These questions should be answered so that in future similar situations, advantage is given to the protection of children's interests, says the ombudswoman.

Pirnat Dragičević also reports an increase in the number of children in need of institutional care, uneven territorial representation of foster families and lack of professional foster care.

At the end of 2019, there were 75 children in children's homes who met conditions for adoption, and during the year there were 25 adoptions, three more than in 2018.

The number of children who meet conditions for adoption is still high, and among them are children in whose adoption there is no interest, as well as children who oppose adoption and whose opinion should be respected, the ombudswoman says.

Commenting on the case of a same-sex couple who was denied the right to provide foster care, Pirnat Dragičević says the most important criteria in evaluating an applicant are the child's needs and the applicant's competencies and dedication and readiness to care about the child in a good and committed way rather than their sexual orientation. In making such a decision, "one should also take into account the child's opinion, in line with their age," she says.

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

Saturday, 21 December 2019

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

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.

Monday, 16 December 2019

EU Project on More Effective Protection of Women Victims of Violence Ends

ZAGREB, December 16, 2019 - Speaking in Zagreb on Monday at a closing press conference for an EU-funded project that dealt with effective protection of women victims of violence, Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said that about 1,200 final court rulings that had been analysed in the last two years revealed all the weaknesses of the system.

"More has been done in the two years of this project than in the last 20 years. About 1,200 final court rulings have been analysed, both in criminal and misdemeanour cases, because we wanted to know what our penal policy is like, how we process the perpetrators and whether the victims are sufficiently protected. The results have shown that unfortunately the victims are not protected enough," Ljubičić said.

Ljubičić said that the victims were not satisfied with conditional sentences, which account for nearly 80 percent of misdemeanour cases, with amounts of fines or with the treatment of double jeopardy.

Maja Mamula, the coordinator of the Women's Room - Centre for Sexual Rights, said that there was not enough political will in Croatia to improve the protection of women against violence.

"In Croatia, femicide has been on the decline over the last few years, but each case of a murdered woman shows that we have a serious problem," Mamula said. She noted that most of the women were killed by their present or former partner, "which shows that the femicide was preceded by things that can be easily recognised and can serve as a signpost for change."

In 80 percent of cases, a woman's murder was preceded by physical violence, and in 70 percent of cases such violence had existed before. In over 60 percent of cases, a firearm was already present in the family and the perpetrators already threatened the victim, and in over 50 percent of cases the victim believed the perpetrator was capable of using violence.

A conference on femicide was held on the occasion of the conclusion of the EU project.

More news about the status of women in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Young People Encounter Hate Speech Online Every Day

ZAGREB, December 15, 2019 - The public sphere, notably the Internet, is full of discriminatory and hate speech, which mostly affects young people as they encounter it almost on a daily basis on social media, news portals and forums, a round table heard earlier this week.

"We are aware that inappropriate and hate speech both online and offline is increasingly present and it in particular affects young people. They are often the victims of hate speech and discriminatory speech but they also resort to it," Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said.

Young people are connected as no previous generation and some Internet users are encouraged by apparent anonymity, i.e. by not being directly in contact with the interlocutor.

The causes of such behaviour are complex, one being the lack of perception of the far-reaching consequences of such speech, i.e. the feelings it elicits in other people and protection mechanisms, according to Vidović.

"We must see how to turn the situation around and encourage positive narratives, how to utilise the knowledge young people have in order to define new policies, solutions, algorithms, perhaps even new laws to change the situation."

Young people must be part of all changes, social, political, economic and climate, and this has also been recognised by the UN, which has dedicated this year's Human Rights Day to youth, Vidović said.

Deputy Human Rights Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter presented the findings of a national survey on hate speech which the Human Rights Ombudswoman's Office conducted in cooperation with the IPSOS agency among people aged 18-30.

The survey shows that they mainly use Instagram, share videos and photos, and one segment, mainly older respondents and men, comment on social media and portals.

According to the respondents, hate speech is extensively present in the physical public sphere in the form of graffiti and posters, at political gatherings, on TV and radio.

Hate speech is even more present in comments on social media, news portals, forums, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat which, according to Šimonović Einwalter, begs the question - has intolerant speech become part of the communication among youth given that texting services are used mainly by acquaintances and friends?

As many as 96% of young people said they had encountered hate speech over the past three months. About one-third of respondents encounter hate speech almost daily on social media, news portals and forums.

Hateful or intolerant comments are mainly based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical appearance, religion and gender. The survey shows that 44% of young persons have been the target of hate speech.

Young people who received hate comments felt sad, humiliated, afraid, threatened and ashamed, yet 68% have not reported them to anyone, although 92% believe such comments can hurt their targets.

Most of the respondents believe regulations on the Internet are too weak and that there is too much hate speech.

Croatia and Europe are recording an increase in social polarisation and hate speech, said Tatjana Katkić Stanić of the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy.

"The Internet, unfortunately, is a very powerful medium in which not only youth, but adults as well, use pseudonyms to express intolerance towards those who are in any way different."

Essential for resolving the problems are inter-departmental cooperation and especially education, with programmes and workshops that should begin from the earliest age, while at the same time working with parents.

More news about children in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Violence Reflects Inequality of Men, Women in Society

ZAGREB, September 21, 2019 - Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said on Saturday that violence against women, whether physical or verbal, perpetuated the unequal balance of power between women and men in society, adding that legal changes were just one segment of the fight against domestic violence.

Croatia observes National Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women on September 22 in memory of the day in 1999 when, during a divorce hearing at the Zagreb Municipal Court, three women were killed and a female court employee was seriously injured.

Speaking on Croatian Radio, Ljubičić said 535 crimes in which women were victims of domestic violence were recorded in 2018 as against 639 in the first eight months of this year.

She said there was no clear distinction between the misdemeanour and criminal aspect of domestic violence, adding that more than 10,000 such misdemeanours were recorded in Croatia annually.

Ljubičić noted that under new amendments to the penal code and the law on protection from domestic violence, physical violence was no longer treated as a misdemeanour. "We believe that some progress will be made."

She said dealing with domestic violence was not one-dimensional and underlined the need to establish procedure protocols for everyone involved in protection from domestic violence.

Legal changes are just one sphere of dealing with domestic violence as, aside from laws, there are other ways to protect and help, including psychological support, shelters and free legal aid, Ljubičić said, adding that the bulk of the funding for such protection came from the state budget.

Local communities should also provide major funding for their shelters and help centres, she said. "So far, they have been allocating 1% for gender budgeting, which is not enough. There should be synergy in decision making at the national and local levels."

Ljubičić said that in terms of norms, Croatia had defined itself over the past 20 years as a society with zero tolerance towards any form of violence. She added, however, that cases of violence on a daily basis, including sexist and verbal violence by public office holders, perpetuated the unequal balance of power between men and women in society.

More news about the status of women in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Ombudswoman Supports High Magistrates' Court Ruling on Ustasha Slogan

ZAGREB, August 15, 2019 - After the High Magistrates' Court confirmed that a local singer, by chanting the salute 'For the homeland ready' while performing a song by pop singer Marko Perković Thompson, had committed a misdemeanour, Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said that this was the first time a higher court had stated its position on Thompson's song "Bojna Čavoglave".

The High Magistrates' Court on Wednesday published its ruling upholding a decision by a lower court that Mario Roso, a singer from Makarska, had committed a misdemeanour at a celebration of Homeland Thanksgiving Day in 2015 by chanting the salute "For the homeland ready" while performing the song authored by Thompson.

The High Magistrates' Court thus upheld the lower court's opinion that by chanting "For the homeland" and "For the homeland ready" as part of the song "Bojna Čavoglave", Roso had breached the law on offences against public order.

The High Magistrates' Court published its ruling two months after handing it down and ten days after Thompson performed the song with the salute at a concert in Split.

This is not the first ruling of the High Magistrates' Court regarding the salute "For the homeland ready" but is the first ruling of a higher court on the chanting of the contentious salute as part of the song "Bojna Čavoglave", Hina was told by sources at the Office of the Public Ombudswoman.

The High Magistrates' Court earlier ruled on four occasions on the contentious salute, each time deciding on earlier rulings by different lower courts.

In each of those cases, the High Magistrates' Court upheld the sentencing verdicts of the lower courts for the use of the salute in situations other than the latest one, stating explicitly in each ruling that the salute is unlawful.

"The High Magistrates' Court stated clearly in its rulings that the "For the homeland ready" salute symbolises hatred towards people of a different race, religion and ethnicity and is a manifestation of a racist ideology and belittles victims of crimes against humanity, as confirmed by the Constitutional Court, but many have seemed to disregard the two courts' positions and messages or still do not hear them clearly," the Office of the Public Ombudswoman said.

Under the practice of the Constitutional Court and the High Magistrates' Court, any chanting of the salute is contrary to the law, the Office of the Public Ombudswoman said, noting that police had to do their job and file misdemeanour charges against anyone chanting the salute, regardless of the occasion, just as courts had to do their part of the job.

So far, police have quoted court practice in cases when they failed to press charges against Thompson for chanting the salute as part of his song "Bojna Čavoglave".

In August 2018, the Sisak-Moslavina County police failed to press charges against Thompson after a concert in the town of Glina, saying that "according to the court practice so far, (the chanting of the salute) did not constitute incitement to hate."

Police in Split-Dalmatia County, too, failed to press charges against the singer after his recent concert in Split.

Commenting on the High Magistrates' Court ruling, deputy chief police director Josip Ćelić said on Wednesday that police had to enforce laws and that it was not their duty to interpret them. "In line with uniform court practice, the police will enforce laws," he said.

Asked if police would press charges against Thompson if he continued using the salute at his concerts, Ćelić said that he did not have a copy of the High Magistrates' Court ruling, adding that "if such a decision is made, we will certainly act in line with the law."

Asked if that meant that police would file misdemeanour charges, Ćelić said: "Absolutely".

Attorneys Anto Nobilo and Alan Sorić commented on the relevance of the High Magistrates' Court ruling, stressing that the salute in question was a fascist, Ustasha salute.

Nobilo welcomed the ruling, saying that the highest misdemeanour court had finally taken the right position, while Sorić said that the decision was wrong as it would restrict freedom of speech.

"I really hope it will help all lower courts to rule in the same way, but primarily that it will motivate police to simply start working in line with the law," said Nobilo, who believes that the latest ruling is actually binding on all lower courts.

Sorić believes that aligning decisions of lower courts with those of higher courts is desirable but notes that that is not always the case because a ruling of a high court is not binding on other courts.

Sorić also believes that the High Magistrates' Court's ruling is wrong because one should take into account the context in which "For the homeland ready" is chanted.

Completely outlawing a slogan leads inevitably to restriction of the freedom of speech, says Sorić, adding that protecting the freedom of speech is more important than outlawing a slogan, regardless of how much shameful and scandalous it might be.

In a comment on the High Magistrates' Court ruling, Thompson's lawyer Davorin Karačić said that the court was known for making different decisions on the same type of cases. He said that the doctrine of precedent did not exist in Croatia and that it was possible that one and the same case could have a different outcome before a different panel of judges of the High Magistrates' Court.

More news about Ustasha revisionism can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Ombudswoman Insists Police Must File Report over Ustasha Salute

ZAGREB, August 7, 2019 - Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidovic has said that failure to file criminal reports over the chanting of the 'For the homeland ready' salute by former HOS members in Knin and at a concert of pop singer Marko Perković in Split would amount to "gross violation of Croatia's' legal order".

She told the Jutarnji List daily on Wednesday that in the event the police persisted in not lodging a criminal report for the two cases, then the Interior Minister and the Prime Minister should get involved in the matter.

Recently Hina learned that the police will not file a criminal report against members of the 9th HOS Battalion who on Monday morning chanted the salute 'For the homeland ready' in front of a monument dedicated to the 1995 Operation Storm in Knin during the celebration of the national Victory Day.

The Šibenik-Knin County Police Department confirmed that while paying tribute to fellow fighters killed in the 1991-95 war, HOS members, led by Marko Skejo, chanted the "For the homeland ready" salute, which was used in the World War II Ustasha-ruled Independent State of Croatia (NDH). "There is nothing contentious about it, they chanted the salute in front of the monument. It would be contentious if they used it outside commemorative events, in the city streets," spokeswoman Marica Kosor said in her explanation.

As for the concert at Split's Riva, the local police told the daily that all songs performed during the event were not prohibited and that there was no accident against public peace and order. The Split-Dalmatia police also said that they acted in line with final rulings of the magistrate courts regarding this matter.

However, according to the Jutarnji List daily, Ombudswoman Vidović insists that the rulings of the High Magistrate Court and the Constitutional Court have made it clear that the salute 'For the homeland ready' is punishable in all circumstances and without exception.

The decisions made by the Constitutional Court are obligatory for all, Vidovic was quoted by the daily as saying.

If the police decide not to file criminal reports, it is an act of political opportunism, she said.

Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Tuesday that he found the Ustasha salute 'For the homeland ready' to be unacceptable, and that one should avoid using it, however, each case has its and circumstances which is why it is necessary to consider place and time of its use.

"I find that salute to be unacceptable. Anyway, it evokes hard times, the (1941-1945) Independent State of Croatia (NDH). I think it should be avoided," the minister told the commercial RTL broadcaster.

Asked by the anchorwoman to explain whether it was unacceptable to use that salute during the central commemoration of Victory Day in Knin on Monday, the minister went on to say that "each case has its specificity and circumstances".

"We have a situation that makes us realise that things should not be seen in black and white only, as some would like to present. We had the HOS units as part of the Croatian army. They were legal, they have a legal coat of arms that includes the salute 'For the homeland ready'. So when this salute is uttered, one should look at the circumstance, the place and the time where and when it is uttered. If this happens in a commemorative space in connection with HOS members, too, then that cannot be prosecuted," the minister explained.

More news about historical revisionism can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 19 July 2019

State Prosecutor Calls out Human Rights Ombudswoman

ZAGREB, July 19, 2019 - The State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) has accused Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović of procedure confidentiality breach by publishing an "anonymous complaint" by border police officers who claim their superiors force them to be violent towards migrants.

Vidović has made a post on her website under the headline "Institutions without response to anonymous complaint by police officer about unlawful actions", enclosing the anonymous complaint.

DORH says it has forwarded the complaint to the relevant prosecutor's office for preliminary investigation, which is under way.

DORH notes that it is therefore not one of the institutions mentioned in the ombudswoman's headline, and that her conclusion "about the lack of response is based solely on the fact that she was not informed about action taken on the anonymous complaint."

It adds that under the law only victims may request from the relevant prosecutor's office to be informed if action has been.

DORH recalls that any action taken during a preliminary investigation as well as information on a person against whom a criminal complaint has been filed is confidential. It adds that investigation confidentiality envisages the protection of the complainant, notably when they voice fear about their personal, job or family safety, as is the case with this anonymous complainant.

More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Ombudswoman: Work and Social Security-Related Complaints Most Frequent

ZAGREB, July 3, 2019 - Presenting in the parliament a report on her work in 2018 on Wednesday, Gender Equality Ombudswoman Višnja Ljubičić said that the largest number of complaints lodged with her office last year referred to work, employment and social security, and that most complaints were filed by women.

Ljubičić said that this was not surprising since most of the unemployed were women, most women worked in underpaid sectors, and most of the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace were women.

She stressed that women were underrepresented in senior business decision-making positions and encountered the so-called glass ceiling.

As for demographic trends, Ljubičić said that in 2017 the number of newborns was the lowest in the last 100 years and that depopulation had been affecting many Croatian regions.

As for reproductive rights, Ljubičić recommended consistent application of comprehensive sexual education, giving women access to family planning and all services related to sexual and reproductive health, including modern methods of contraception, as well as a safe and legal pregnancy termination.

Ljubičić believes that the underrepresentation of women on slates in the political sphere should not be fined but that rather slates with an insufficient number of female candidates should be turned down was the case in a growing number of western countries.

Ljubičić warned that women continued to be the most frequent victims of domestic abuse.

In 2018, misdemeanour charges were pressed against more than 10,000 people for domestic violence - 78% of them were men and 22% women. Of the total number of perpetrators of domestic violence, 91% are men and 9% are women. As for the victims, 75% are women and 25% are men.

As regards all types of violence, prevention plays a very important role, Ljubičić said, adding that victims of intimate partner violence still lacked appropriate legal protection.

More news about ombudswoman’s activities can be found in the Politics section.

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