Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2021

Human Rights House Zagreb published the annual report “Human rights in Croatia: Overview of 2021”, which provides an overview of the most important problems, challenges and open questions that affected the protection and promotion of human rights in Croatia last year.

The year 2021 was also marked by the epidemic of COVID-19 and the consequences of the earthquake in Zagreb and Banija. The reconstruction of destroyed family houses and apartments was ineffective and too slow, burdened with too many administrative requirements and the inertness of public bodies. Safety measures also had a negative impact on social life last year due to the restriction of human rights to assembly, movement and the obligation to use EU-Covid certificates for access to public services.

Unfortunately, even last year, human rights were not high on the list of political priorities of the Government of Croatia, and we saw the end of another year without valid public policies for the protection and promotion of human rights and the fight against discrimination, as well as policies in the field of gender equality and the development of civil society. The consequence of this is that numerous problems and challenges in the realization, protection and promotion of human rights in Croatia are still not systematically solved.

Along with the low level of trust of citizens in institutions, there are still serious problems related to the efficiency and quality of the judicial system. The level of perceived independence of the Croatian judiciary is still among the lowest in the EU. Although the perception of corruption in public bodies is still high, the Government is reducing the powers of the Commission for deciding on conflicts of interest, an important anti-corruption mechanism.

The rate of risk of poverty and social exclusion is stagnating, so more than a fifth of the population of Croatia is still at risk of poverty and social exclusion. It is devastating that more than half of people over the age of 65 are at risk of poverty, and more than half of pensions are lower than the Croatian poverty line. The uneven availability of social services, which negatively affects the realization of the rights of vulnerable and marginalized groups and individuals, is also a concern.

Children and young people still do not learn enough about democracy, human rights, equality and solidarity, as shown by the low levels of political participation of young people and trust in institutions. The inclusion of citizens and civil society in decision-making and consultation processes is often more formal than substantive, which weakens the possibilities for citizen participation.

Unfortunately, as in previous years, Croatia did not do enough to develop policies to deal with contemporary and multilevel challenges and problems related to the protection and realization of human rights. Politicians and institutions are idealess, unambitious, inactive and every year they have less and less capacity for designing, creating and implementing public policies based on human rights, which represents a serious problem in the context of complex challenges – climate change, population aging, war, migration, social and economic inequalities.

The full report can be accessed here.