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Advance questions and statement to Croatia

Advance questions

1, During the EU accession process, Croatia intensified efforts to combat discrimination and ensure equal treatment of all ethnicities. However, the Ombudsman Office and certain NGOs have expressed concerns that these efforts have now weakened. The discrimination of minorities, Serbs and Roma in particular, remains a challenge. What will Croatia do to increase the protection of minorities, and promote the participation of minorities in all aspects of society?

2, What concrete measures will be taken to further promote inter-ethnic harmony in Eastern Slavonia? How will Croatia improve the effective implementation of language and education rights of the Serb minority?      

3, Norway welcomes the amendments to the Penal Code in 2013, stipulating stricter penalties for hate crimes and the establishment of the Working Group for Monitoring Hate Crime. How will Croatia ensure that the public at large is well informed about the gravity of hate crime violence?

4, We are concerned with the lack of progress in the EHCR cases concerning inadequate investigations of war crimes during the war in Croatia. What is the status with regards to the implementation of these judgments?

Statement

Mr. President

Norway would like to commend Croatia for its efforts to improve its legislation against hate crimes and discrimination, and the work done by The Government Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities in organising human rights campaigns and in following up the previous UPR.

 Norway is, however, concerned about the implementation of minority rights in Croatia. While the legal framework seems adequate to deal effectively with ethnic discrimination, incidents of   discrimination and violence, particularly towards ethnic Serbs and Roma, remain a severe issue. We recommend that Croatia intensify its efforts to promote inter-ethnic harmony through education, and implement concrete measures for the integration of minorities into the Croatian society.

Norway is concerned about the number of unresolved cases relating to severe human rights violations during the war in the 1990s. There are still reports noting that the selection of cases for investigation remain disproportionally directed at ethnic Serbs. Norway recommends undertaking awareness campaigns directed towards the judiciary with a view of promoting non-discrimination.

Reports from civil society note the lack of a well-adapted system of support for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Existing centres for victims of sexual and domestic violence are insufficient, according to reports by UNDP and standards set by the Council of Europe. Norway recommends that Croatia dedicate additional resources to enhance the capacity of centres for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

While commending Croatia for the work done in relation to the follow-up of the previous UPR, we recommend including civil society organisations in the process before finalising and submitting the National Report.

Thank you, Mr. President.