Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidovic said on Wednesday that 92,000 pensioners in 2015 received allowances of less than HRK 500 (approx. EUR 67) and that one in five young people neither went to school nor worked and was at risk of full social exclusion.
Unacceptable and discriminatory public rhetoric is still strongly present and minority rights are perceived as a threat to the majority, Vidovic said in the parliament while presenting a report on her work in 2015.
She warned that close to 38,000 people did not have access to the public water supply system, that the number of diagnosed melanoma cases was similar to the EU average but that the mortality rate was above 50%.
Vidovic said this was only a small part of the problems cited in her report, which also contains an analysis and description of the human rights situation and cases of discrimination as well as recommendations for improving the situation.
The report was compiled on the basis of citizens' complaints, information gathered in cooperation with a number of institutions and individuals, field work and media reports.
Vidovic said the cooperation with local authorities was increasingly good but that some agencies failed to respond promptly or ignored her office's work, such as several ministries, Zagreb University, the Zagreb University Hospital Centre and the State Property Management Office (DUUDI).
Most complaints concerned the work of courts.
The Office of the Human Rights Ombudswoman last year received 13% more cases than in 2014 and 80% more cases than in 2012.
Representatives of the ruling coalition objected that her report left out some cases of discrimination, that some were overly emphasised while some were disregarded.
Zeljko Glasnovic of the HDZ party said the report did not mention ethnic Croats living outside Croatia as the most discriminated group, de-nationalisation or "the fact that some people have been fighting for their rights since 1945."
Ladislav Ilcic of Hrast said that Vidovic was treating as problematic the Ustasha salute "For the homeland ready" but not so the parole "Death to fascism, freedom to the people," under which he said numerous people had been killed too.
Miro Bulj of Bridge and Marija Budimir of the HDZ disagreed with Vidovic's assessment about minority rights.
Croatia can serve as an example to others in that regard, said Bulj, while Budimir said the situation was not nearly as Vidovic claimed and that the ombudswoman was stating her personal opinion.
Zeljko Jovanovic of the opposition SDP party said the situation had deteriorated from last year in terms of availability of education and health care.
The number of scholarships is declining and in the last four months the number of patients waiting for specialist examinations has increased by 30,000, said Jovanovic and called on the Health Ministry to start dealing with those problems.