Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Parliament Discusses Candidates for Public Ombudsman

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The Croatian parliament on Wednesday discussed a proposal by the Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System to nominate attorney and judge Sandra Hančić and Deputy Public Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter for the post of Public Ombudsman.

Several opposition party groups expressed dissatisfaction that Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović's reports for 2018 and 2019 had still not been discussed.

Nino Raspudić of the Bridge party warned about what he called a huge increase in the budget of the ombudswoman's office, saying it had doubled since 2008, as well as about an increase in the number of staff.

He proposed reducing the term of the public ombudsman from eight to five years and that the official should be elected by a two-thirds majority in the parliament.

That way one would not elect a para-political person, said Raspudić, adding that outgoing Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović had not dealt with issues she should have dealt with and that she made her views clear when she opposed the 2013 referendum on marriage as a union of man and woman.

Dalija Orešković (Centar, GLAS) warned about growing social inequality and what she described as the shameful treatment of the office of public ombudswoman, whose reports for 2018 and 2019 had still not been discussed by the parliament. The Public Ombudswoman has protected public interest and not the interests of the HDZ, Orešković said, accusing the ruling party of destroying the country and causing its people to emigrate.

She dismissed Raspudić's claim that Vidović was a para-political figure.

The declining number of applications for the post shows that candidates do not see any prospects there, she said.

Ružica Vukovac of the Homeland Movement warned that MPs were only given short biographies of the candidates, who were not presented in the parliament.

Vesna Nađ (SDP) said that her party preferred Šimonović Einwalter, noting that it was not good that the public ombudswoman's reports for 2018 and 2019 had not been discussed.

Damir Habijan of the HDZ said the office of the public ombudsman was undoubtedly important and that the candidates had answered all questions put to them by two parliamentary committees.

The public ombudsman is expected to advocate and protect the rights and freedoms defined by the Constitution and international treaties, and the HDZ will make a decision on which candidate to support when the vote is taken, he said.

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

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Parliamentary Committee Chair: "We'll See if Đurđević Will be a Candidate and if She is Acceptable"

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The chair of the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System has said that it would be in the spirit of the Constitution to publish a new call for applications for the Supreme Court president, declining to say if Zlata Đurđević is acceptable to the ruling majority.

"The President must respect the Constitution and under the Constitution, he has the authority to propose a candidate for the Supreme Court president, but he also must respect the legal procedure. That includes the Law on Courts, in line with which a public call is conducted, and the Law on the State Judicial Council (DSV), which specifies conditions a candidate for the Supreme Court president must meet," Dražen Bošnjaković of the ruling HDZ party told reporters in the parliament.

"The Parliament Speaker has already said that he must return the President's proposal for completion as the candidate he has proposed did not submit her application in a public call. Anything that arrives in the parliament must be in line with the law, which is not the case now because an application was not submitted," said Bošnjaković.

There are no special regulations regarding a renewed public call but in the spirit of the system, if no one has applied or if there is no will to propose any of the candidates who have applied, a notification is sent to the DSV that none of the candidates will be proposed and a new public call is advertised, Bošnjaković explained.

As for President Zoran Milanović's candidate Zlata Đurđević's statement that she was willing to apply for the post of Supreme Court president in a new public call, Bošnjaković would not say if she was acceptable to the ruling majority, noting only that that would be seen when and if she applied.

SDP MP: Constitution requires agreement between president, parliamentary majority

The deputy head of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) parliamentary group, Arsen Bauk, said that Đurđević should be elected by a majority vote in the parliament at the proposal of the president of the republic, and that the procedure was a technical matter at the moment.

If the president and the parliamentary majority reach an agreement on Đurđević, she will be elected, and if they don't, she won't. The Constitution requires agreement between the president and the parliamentary majority, anything else is one-upmanship and amuses the public, Bauk said.

"The law has evidently fully served its purpose because this is the most transparent election of the Supreme Court president ever, it won't be this transparent in the next few election cycles," Bauk said.

"If Đurđević is an acceptable candidate to the HDZ, it makes no difference if she is elected based on the (president's) proposal or if she submits an application in a make-believe public call. If I were to make a joke, I would say that if she were honest, she would ask to be elected in a rigged public call. Or an agreement will be reached on someone else, if possible, but there are four more months left," said Bauk.

Also today, during a parliamentary debate, Bauk criticised Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković for breaching the parliament's standing orders by returning President Milanović's proposal for the election of the Supreme Court president to be completed.

"The Parliament Speaker has breached Article 170 of the Standing Orders because he sent back the President's proposal instead of letting the parliament decide on whether the proposal would be put on the agenda," Bauk said, noting that the president's proposal had all the elements it was required to have under the Standing Orders.

"If there are any objections, they are determined in a debate," Bauk said, adding that he was citing a breach of the Standing Orders "in order to have the topic nominated for discussion by the Committee on the Constitution and Standing Orders."

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

 

Friday, 5 March 2021

Opposition Turn Away From Parl. Majority for not Supporting Changes to Penal Code

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Opposition MPs on Friday protested by turning away from members of majority lawmakers after the parliament rejected a motion put forward by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to have sexual harassment prosecuted ex officio instead of after it is reported, the deadline for it being three months. 

After the parliament rejected the SDP's amendments to the Penal Code, with 74 votes against, 51 in favour and two abstentions, opposition MPs stood up and turned their backs on the section of the parliament chamber where members of the parliamentary majority sit.

Before the vote, opposition MPs Sabina Glasovac (SDP), Marijana Puljak (Centar), Sandra Benčić (We Can!), Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) and Ružica Vukovac (Homeland Movement) called once again on the parliamentary majority not to "turn their backs on the victims" and to endorse the amendments for the sake of protection of victims of sexual violence.

"The statute of limitations on sexual violence will expire if female students, workers, housewives, all women who suffer sexual violence, fail to report it within three months," said Glasovac.

Puljak said that the parliamentary debate had shown that all 151 deputies were agreed that the victims should be helped, asking what was the harm of amending the law now.

Benčić said that the parliamentary majority's argument that work was underway on a new, more comprehensive law did not hold water.

"The procedure will last for the most part of the year and meanwhile the statute of limitations will expire on all cases of sexual violence about which we have been hearing in recent months," she warned.

"As far as the victims are concerned, it would be better to adopt the amendments now than later," said Selak Raspudić.

This is about whether we will support the victims or the abusers, said Vukovac.

HDZ MP Marija Jelkovac said that the HDZ was not against the goal of the SDP's motion but rather did not want to change the Penal Code twice in a short period of time.

Work on amending the Penal Code is under way and the amendments will cover all demands set by the SDP as well as other changes related to improving the protection of women against sexual harassment, Jelkovac said.

The parliament unanimously adopted, with 114 votes for, a conclusion by party groups making up the parliamentary majority entrusting the government with submitting to the parliament, no later than May 31, amendments to the Penal Code that will be in line with EU regulations and ensure stronger protection of victims of sexual harassment, by introducing ex-officio prosecution of such crimes.

Bošnjaković reassures opposition MPs that SDP Proposal will be added to amendments

HDZ lawmaker and former justice minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Friday afternoon that the SDP-sponsored motion would be incorporated later, explaining that the relevant law is organic and it is not advisable to change it too frequently.

He also underscored the fact that the cabinet of Prime Minister Andrej had introduced harsher  penalties for sexual offences.

He also reassured the Opposition that he statute of limitations would not expire, as claimed by some opposition MPs.

The parliament did not support the Bridge party's proposal to abolish the mandatory membership fee in the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

MPs Debate Candidates For Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - Parliament on Wednesday debated a draft list of candidates for Croatian Radio-Television's (HRT) Programming Council but opposition MPs, disgruntled that the HRT was not broadcasting the debate live, walked out of the chamber.

Parliament is expected to vote on the candidates who meet the requirements set by the parliamentary media committee on Friday.

During the debate before the walkout, Nino Raspudić of the opposition Bridge (Most) said the Programming Council "has no powers and serves nothing because no one listens to it, it has no role at all nor influence on the selection of anyone or anything."

"The HRT is in the service of the great leader and his clique on a caricature level," he said, adding that the reputation and relevance of the public broadcaster was being constantly degraded and that the HRT avoided covering serious topics.

Raspudić said the Programming Council was disempowered by amendments to the HRT Act adopted by the former SDP-led government, adding that the power was concentrated in the hands of the HRT director general and the HRT put under direct political control.

Željko Sačić of the opposition Croatian Sovereignists said the HRT did not have enough programmes for war veterans and criticised the Programming Council for failing to affirm the values in the Homeland War Declaration.

Marijana Puljak of opposition Centre suggested abolishing the licence fee and the Programming Council, saying that Croatia had high taxes which could be used to finance the HRT's work instead of additionally collecting HRK 1.3 billion annually from citizens. She added that there was no investigating journalism on the HRT.

Vesna Bedeković of the ruling HDZ denied that the Programming Council had no role or powers, saying it followed the implementation of programming principles and the HRT-government agreement.

She recalled that nine of the Council's 11 members were elected in parliament and two from the HRT staff, and dismissed complaints that there were no sufficient programmes for war veterans.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Bridge MP Announces Parliamentary Debate On Right To Disconnect

ZAGREB, Sept 5, 2020 - Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudic said on Saturday this opposition party would open debate in parliament on a law on the right to disconnect, which would separate work from private life so that it could be implemented in Croatia work environment.

"Given that amendments to the Labour Act have been announced and more and more citizens work from home, while on the other hand new technologies have made our work flexible and raised the question of how it should be regulated by law, it's necessary to talk about how to separate the public and the private when workers work from home," Selak Raspudic said at a press conference.

She announced that Bridge would be the first in Croatia to open a debate on a law on the right to disconnect.

Croatian laws should not only follow global trends, in which, she said, Croatia is lagging, but also dictate them by being the first to recognize how new technologies are changing working conditions.

Asked about Bridge's position on a protest announced for today under the name Freedom Festival, Selak Raspudic said she would not attend but that she supported any form of civic activism.

Another Bridge MP, Marin Miletic, said he would come to the rally in Zagreb to hear what people had to say.

He said it was absolutely unacceptable to bring into question the right of citizens to gather in public under all legitimate measures and express their dissatisfaction with the national COVID response team.

The team has put itself above parliament and given itself the right to adopt decisions which, according to many constitutional law experts, are very questionable, Miletic said.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Page 4 of 4

Search