A Eurobarometer survey shows that 33% of the respondents in Croatia have experienced discrimination this year and more than half said they would not know their rights if they became a victim of discrimination, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudswoman said on Wednesday.
The actual number of cases of discrimination is several times higher than the number of reported cases because citizens lack sufficient information on discrimination and how to identify it and are afraid to report it because they do not trust state institutions, Ombudswoman Lora Vidovic said in a statement.
Discrimination is prohibited by law in all EU member countries and fines for discrimination in Croatia range from 1,000 to 350,000 kuna.
An anti-discrimination phone line was launched in July 2014 and a network of regional anti-discrimination points gathering associations from Split, Sisak, Porec, Vukovar and Zagreb was established to raise citizens' awareness of their rights.
In 2014, 263 cases of discrimination were opened and most of them were complaints about discrimination based on ethnicity, race, age, education, political affiliation, religion and health. The areas where discrimination was reported most frequently were related to work, employment, public information and access to goods and services, it was said.
Vidovic said that there were 374 discrimination-related court cases in 2014.
She underlined that citizens fear long and costly litigation, victimisation, the loss of their job, worsening of working conditions or retaliation by the person reported for discrimination, to which she said she regularly pointed in her annual reports to the parliament.