AI: Discrimination against Serbs, Roma continues in Croatia, country struggles with refugee wave

Discrimination against Serbs and Roma continues in Croatia, according to the annual Amnesty International report which also said that last year the country struggled to provide adequate reception conditions and access to asylum proceeding to a large number of refugees and migrants that arrived in the country.

The state-wide celebration in August of the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm, which saw 200,000 Serbs flee from Croatia in 1995, brought tensions between Serb and Croat nationalists back. the report said adding that the local authorities in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar had decided to remove public signs in the Cyrillic (Serb) alphabet, and to require a special request and the payment of a fee for the receipt of official communications in Cyrillic, despite the fact that 34% of the town’s population were ethnic Serbs. The report also notes that discrimination against Croatian Serbs in public sector employment and in the restitution of tenancy rights to social housing vacated during the 1991-1995 war persisted.

Social exclusion of and discrimination against Roma remained widespread, particularly in accessing adequate housing and employment opportunities, according to the report.

Amensty International singled our several cases saying that the municipal court in Split acquitted three men standing trial for a homophobic attack against six women in the town in 2012. "The victims alleged that the local police had threatened them when they filed their complaint, failed to arrest the suspects on the spot and investigate the crime effectively," the report said.

The report also notes that in June, the Osijek County Court confirmed the decision of the Zagreb Municipal Court, finding that Zagreb Pride, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisation, violated the honour and dignity of a former employee of Croatian Radio Television (HRT) by placing her on the annual list of candidates for the most homophobic person of the year 2013. The Court ordered the organisation to pay 41,018.91 HRK (€5,414) to the journalist and to publish the verdict on its website.

"Croatia did not ratify the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances nor did it adopt a law on missing persons. In the absence of these legal instruments, relatives of the 1,600 missing persons in Croatia were denied access to justice and reparations," the report said.

The report also notes that By the end of the year, more than 550,000 refugees and migrants had transited through Croatia towards other EU countries, with the assistance of state authorities providing free transportation.

"Only a few hundred people made an asylum application and, by October, 37 had been granted international protection," the report said.

The report also criticised the authorities saying that they failed to identify vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking entering the country through its land borders.

Last update: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 10:14

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