Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2019

Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2019 is a report by Human Rights House Zagreb which provides insight into violations, problems and challenges in the field of protection and promotion of human rights in Croatia during the previous year. The report is based on a systematic year-round monitoring and collecting of information from relevant civil society and academia stakeholders who deal with human rights.

The overall assessment of the human rights situation in Croatia for 2019 is: stagnation. There has been no clear systemic progress, but also no measurable and visible efforts to strengthen and build a system of protection and promotion of human rights.

Human rights were not on the political agenda of institutions and decision-makers in 2019 as well. This is a continuation of the negative trend of political and institutional neglection of human rights work present since Croatia’s accession to the European Union.

For years Croatia has not had basic public policies in the field of human rights, and therefore no plan to stop and reverse the negative trend of degradation of the achieved standards in certain areas of human rights. Social problems such as intolerance, hate speech, discrimination and hate motivated violence are addressed only reactively and superficially. Last year civic education was also neglected and marginalized in the education system. Unfortunately, children and youth are not taught about their fundamental human rights and solidarity, nor are they encouraged to actively participate in society.

Economic inequalities mostly affect vulnerable and marginalized social groups. Elderly people and children are particularly exposed to the risk of poverty. At the same time, although nominally existing, Croatia does not actually have a usable and human rights-based strategy for combating poverty. One in five citizens still lives at risk of poverty, and regional inequalities are visible with respect to income as well as access to education, health and social care.

Institutional inertia with respect to the state’s ability to actively address resolving the complex problems of today, such as migration, climate change, technological development challenges and digital age, as well as negative population trends, is concerning. In the context of these global challenges, the lack of quality public policies and solutions based on the principles and standards of respect, protection and promotion of human rights is of particular concern.

Instead of progress, we are constantly witnessing human rights problems and violations in areas such as media freedoms and judiciary. The slowness of the judiciary, the bureaucratisation of public administration, the perception of corruption and distrust in institutions further add to the level of dissatisfaction with life in Croatia.

The entire report is available here: Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2019