Nils Muižnieks: Croatia should eliminate shortcomings in transitional justice, immigration and media freedom

Human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks has urged Croatia to eliminate shortcomings in transitional justice, immigration and media freedom.

Muižnieks is concerned about the recent regression of inter-state co-operation in the region on the prosecution of wartime crimes committed during the 1990s.

“It is worrying to see the persistence of impunity in Croatia for certain serious human rights violations committed in the past,” states the Commissioner for Human Rights. “The authorities should put an end to this, and effectively prosecute, try and sanction the perpetrators of wartime crimes.”

Whilst welcoming the enactment of the law which provides for reparation for the victims of wartime crimes of sexual violence, Muižnieks calls on the authorities to remedy the remaining shortcomings in the law and in its implementation.

He wants Croatia to ensure that all victims of war-related crimes and their families are provided with effective access to justice and adequate reparation.

Commending the authorities’ efforts to ensure adequate conditions for the return of persons displaced during the 1991-1995 armed conflict, the commissioner recommends that the authorities pay more attention to the needs of returnees belonging to national minorities, so that they can fully enjoy their economic, social, cultural and linguistic rights.

He also urges Croatia to accede to the Council of Europe treaties concerning nationality and statelessness and to improve its legislation to resolve the problem of more than 2 800 persons, including Roma without permanent or temporary residence in the country, who remain stateless or are at risk of statelessness.

The reported rise in manifestations of ethnic intolerance and hate crime and its negative impact on social cohesion in Croatia should urgently be addressed. “It is positive that the legislative and institutional framework in this field has been strengthened. Now there should be more resolute action to ensure awareness-raising and the effective implementation of this legislation, particularly by improving the system of recording hate crime data and by systematically training law enforcement officials and legal professionals.”

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