Lora Vidović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Tomislav Pavlek/ tp

Human rights ombudswoman Lora Vidovic warned in her report for 2015 on Tuesday that citizens had the most complaints about the work of the judiciary, saying that an analysis of the situation in the country showed that much more effort must be invested at all levels of government to prevent violations of human rights and freedoms as well as discrimination.

Vidovic said her office received 13 percent more cases last year than in 2014 and 80% more than in 2012. Most of the complaints referred to the work of the judiciary, notably dissatisfaction with court decisions and overlong proceedings. Citizens feel mistrust in nearly every area as well as unequal before the law.

Vidovic said the years-long economic downturn further deepened the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable citizens. She said many elderly citizens continued to live in unacceptable conditions, unable to fulfil bare necessities, without adequate care, and often victims of discrimination.

Most complaints about discrimination referred to work and employment because workers fear losing their job, while the jobless have a hard time finding one. War veterans complained that the support system is not adjusted to their needs and that society treats them as a burden. The number of their complaints shows that more and more are homeless. There are also more and more homeless women. 

Vidovic said the complaints showed that prejudices, stereotypes and intolerance in reference to minorities remained. One in four complains was about race, ethnicity, skin colour or nationality, and the Serb and Roma national minorities were especially threatened.

"This information, alongside an insufficiently developed court practice, a noticeably harsher rhetoric in the public arena during the election year 2015, and intolerance in the wake of the refugee crisis point to the need of regular and more consistent use of powers at the disposal of police and judicial staff in the prevention and punishment of hate speech and hate crimes," she said.

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