The Republic of Croatia is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. Legislative authority is vested in the unicameral parliament (Sabor). The president serves as head of state and nominates the prime minister, who leads the government. Domestic and international observers stated that the latest parliamentary elections held in September 2016 were free and fair.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most significant human rights issues included restrictions on expression and the press, including violence against journalists; and corruption.
The government took significant steps to prosecute and punish individuals who committed abuses of human rights.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities; however, a significant number of cases of missing persons from the 1991-95 conflict remained unresolved. The government reported that as of June 30, 1,532 persons remained missing, and the government was searching for the remains of 420 individuals known to be deceased, for a total of 1,952 unsolved missing persons cases. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs reported that in the period from January 1 to October 15, the remains of 54 individuals were exhumed, and in the same period final identifications were made for 22 individuals. The government continued to prioritize the resolution of outstanding missing persons cases, but progress had slowed since 2016. Technical challenges and inadequate cooperation with neighboring countries hampered resolution of cases.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices. There were no reports the government employed them.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
The treatment of prisoners was considered generally humane, although overcrowding remained a problem in some prisons.
Physical Conditions: The Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights reported an easing of prison overcrowding, although it persisted in some high-security prisons. As of December 31, 2016, prisons were at 80 percent capacity. Several prisons remained overcrowded, including those in Karlovac (at 132 percent capacity), Dubrovnik (118 percent), and Osijek (128 percent). A majority of prisoner complaints concerned the quality and accessibility of medical care and inadequate facilities, specifically a lack of living space.
Administration: The ombudsman’s office visited prison facilities and issued recommendations for the Ministries of Justice and Health to investigate alleged mistreatment of some prisoners, improve facilities, and improve health services.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental organization (NGO) observers. On March 14-22, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited the country to review measures taken by authorities to implement the CPT’s recommendations from a visit in 2012. The CPT visit focused particularly on the treatment of and detention conditions for prisoners, as well as legal safeguards for patients in psychiatric institutions. At year’s end the CPT’s report of the visit was not yet publicly released.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and the law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his/her arrest or detention in court, and the government observed these requirements.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The national police, under the control of the Ministry of the Interior, have primary responsibility for domestic security. In times of disorder, the prime minister and the president may call upon the armed forces to provide security. The intelligence service is under the authority of the prime minister and the president. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police, the armed forces, and the intelligence services. The government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.
Although the government nominated members for the parliamentary council for civilian oversight of security and intelligence agencies, after the previous council’s mandate expired in October 2015, as of year’s end parliament had not yet confirmed them.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Other than those arrested during the commission of a crime, persons were apprehended with warrants issued by a judge or prosecutor based on evidence. Prosecutors may hold suspects for up to 48 hours based on their decision on detention. Upon request of the state prosecutors, an investigative judge may extend investigative detention for an additional 36 hours. Authorities informed detainees promptly of charges against them. There was a functioning bail system, and courts may release detainees on their own recognizance. Authorities allowed detainees prompt access to a lawyer of their choice or, if indigent, to one provided by the state.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Detainees may challenge their detention in court and are entitled to release and compensation if their detention is determined to have been unlawful.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality. Cases of intimidation of state prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers were isolated. As of June 30, the judiciary suffered from a backlog of 474,345 cases, down from 520,000 in 2016.
County courts in Osijek, Rijeka, Split, and Zagreb exercised exclusive jurisdiction over war crimes cases.
The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair and public trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy the presumption of innocence. Defendants must be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them. Defendants have a right to a timely trial and to be present at their trial. They have the right to communicate with an attorney of their choice or to have one provided at state expense. Defendants enjoy the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Any defendant who cannot understand or speak the language used in court has free access to an interpreter, from the moment charged, through all appeals. Defendants have the right to confront witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants and prosecutors may file an appeal before a verdict becomes final, and defendants may file appeal through the domestic courts up to the European Court of Human Rights.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Individuals may seek damages for, or cessation of, an alleged human rights violation. Individuals may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after all domestic legal remedies have been exhausted or after a case has been pending for an excessive period in domestic courts. The backlog in domestic courts raised concerns regarding judicial effectiveness, efficiency, legal certainty, and the rule of law. Administrative remedies were also available.
The country is a signatory to the Terezin Declaration. The government had insufficient laws or mechanisms in place to address property restitution issues, and NGOs and advocacy groups reported that the government had not made progress on resolution of Holocaust-era claims, including for foreign citizens.
According to the 1996 law on Compensation for the Property Taken during the Former Yugoslav Communist Regime, restitution of property seized during the Communist era was limited to individuals who were citizens of the country in 1996, when parliament passed the restitution law, and claims could only be filed within a specified window, which closed in January 2003. Consequently, the law did not apply to persons whose property was expropriated but who left the country and obtained citizenship elsewhere. A 2002 amendment to the law allowed for foreign citizens to file claims if their country of citizenship concluded a bilateral agreement with Croatia. In 2008 a court ruled that a bilateral treaty is not a requirement for restitution claims; however, a 2011 attempt to amend the legislation was not successful.
In September the Ministry of Culture reported that its Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, in coordination with the Jewish Community of Zagreb, began a study of available archives to identify Jewish cemeteries and burial sites not listed on the Official Registry of Cultural Goods, although the study was not completed by year’s end. The government also reported designating representatives to work with organizations dedicated to Holocaust-era property issues, notably mapping and preservation of Jewish cemeteries and research on Jewish cultural goods in museums, in accordance with the Terezin Declaration.
Restitution of communal property remained a problem for the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the umbrella organization representing Jewish communities throughout the country, particularly the Jewish Community of Zagreb, an umbrella organization. There had been no restitutions of Jewish communal property since 2014, although several requests were pending. Jewish organizations reported significant problems with the process of restitution of private property seized during and after World War II.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to change their government through free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage. Voting is mandatory.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: The government held a free and fair federal parliamentary election in 2016. Voters re-elected the Liberal-National Party Coalition government and Malcolm Turnbull remained prime minister. The coalition won 76 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, the Labor Party 69, and others five.
Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit participation of women and/or members of minorities in the political processes, and they did participate. Representation of women in major political parties remained low, however. The law requires that the “less represented gender” make up at least 40 percent of candidates on a party’s candidate list, with violations punishable by a fine. This law applied to local elections for the first time in May. The Electoral Commission noted that all major political parties fell short of this threshold. The law stipulates fines of between 20,000 to 50,000 kuna ($3,100 to $7,700) per electoral list against parties not meeting the threshold at the third regular election following the entry of force of the law, which was considered to be the May local elections. There were no reports of fines being imposed on political parties during the year.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the judiciary generally implemented statutory penalties in cases in which there was a conviction. High-profile corruption convictions, however, were frequently overturned on appeal. Corruption remained a problem, and significant numbers of high-profile corruption cases were underway. State prosecutors continued to prosecute corruption cases, which involved local mayors, politicians, and public figures.
Corruption: The retrial of former prime minister Ivo Sanader continued, after the Supreme Court in 2015 annulled his 2014 conviction on corruption charges, citing procedural errors.
In October the Zagreb County Court began trial proceedings against former HDZ transportation minister Bozidar Kalmeta and several other codefendants for corruption charges related to the embezzlement of 2.85 million euros ($3.42 million).
On November 15, the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) arrested Zagreb Commercial Court Judge Vesna Malenica and four other individuals, alleging corrupt practices in bankruptcy proceedings. According to press reports, the State Judicial Council stripped Malenica’s immunity. The investigation was underway at year’s end.
On December 11, USKOK indicted member of parliament Tomislav Saucha for abuse of power and fraud during his service as chief of staff to former prime minister Zoran Milanovic. Saucha and his then assistant, Sandra Zeljko, were accused of stealing $100,000 in state funds by falsifying travel vouchers. Saucha denied any involvement in the alleged crimes.
Financial Disclosure: The law requires public officials to declare their assets and income, and government officials generally complied with this requirement. This information was available to the public. Administrative sanctions for noncompliance were generally a fine.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: Conviction of rape, including spousal rape, is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. Police and prosecutors were generally responsive to crimes and accusations associated with domestic violence and rape, but there were isolated reports that local police departments did not consistently adhere to national guidelines regarding the treatment of victims of sexual assault.
Conviction of domestic violence is punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained a problem.
On October 6, Prime Minister Plenkovic removed Pozesko-Slavonska County prefect Alojz Tomasevic from his party leadership position after police detained Tomasevic on October 3 on domestic violence allegations. Plenkovic called on Tomasevic to resign from his elected position if criminal charges were filed against him.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides a maximum prison sentence of one year for conviction of sexual harassment. The ombudsman for gender equality repeatedly expressed concerns that victims of sexual harassment dropped official complaints due to fear of reprisal.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men. The law requires equal pay for equal work. In practice, women experienced discrimination in employment and occupation.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth in the country’s territory or from at least one parent who is a citizen. Authorities registered all births at the time of birth within the country or abroad.
Child Abuse: Child abuse including violence and sexual abuse was a problem. The government had an active ombudsman for children. Police and prosecutors generally were responsive in investigating such cases.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18; children older than 16 may marry with a judge’s written consent. NGOs cited early and forced marriage as a problem in the Romani community.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. The Ministry of the Interior conducted investigative programs and worked with international partners to combat child pornography. The ministry operated a website known as Red Button for the public to report child pornography to police. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
According to the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia, the country’s Jewish community numbered between 2,000 and 2,500 persons. Jewish community leaders reported evidence of Holocaust denial and publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response to a veterans group’s placement of a plaque bearing the World War II-era Ustasha salute “Za Dom Spremni” (For the Homeland, Ready) near the World War II-era Jasenovac death camp in 2016. President Grabar-Kitarovic and Prime Minister Plenkovic both condemned the placement of the plaque in Jasenovac. In September the government relocated the plaque from Jasenovac to a veterans’ cemetery in the nearby town of Novska but did not make a legal determination on the use of the controversial Ustasha-era salute.
In February approximately 30 members of the A-HSP staged a march during which party members waved flags bearing an unofficial coat of arms associated with the World War II fascist Ustasha movement and their A-HSP party flag with the slogan “Za Dom Spremni.” According to the police, the actions were intended to “incite fear and intolerance in society.” Police arrested A-HSP leader Drazen Keleminec during the rally for disturbing the peace.
On April 23, Prime Minister Plenkovic, the speaker of parliament, the special envoy from the Office of the President, and government ministers attended the annual official commemoration at Jasenovac. For the second consecutive year, the country’s two Jewish communities boycotted the government’s commemoration and organized their own, citing concerns about the controversial plaque near Jasenovac as well as efforts by nationalists to glorify the country’s Nazi-collaborationist Ustasha regime. Serb and other organizations also held separate commemorations.
In March, Prime Minister Plenkovic announced the creation of a special council of legal experts, academics, and historians to provide the government with legal, institutional, and legislative recommendations regarding the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes. The government directed the council to issue its recommendations by March 2018.
On October 17, the Constitutional Court ruled that the naming of a street in the town of Slatinski Drenovac after the date of establishment (April 10) of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was unconstitutional. The court stated its decision could be applied to cases regarding the use of other Ustasha-related slogans and symbols and represented the court’s legal opinion that the character of the NDH contradicted the values of the constitution.
In August singer Marko “Thompson” Perkovic led pro-Ustasha chants during a concert commemorating the country’s Victory and Homeland Day in Slunj. Police filed misdemeanor charges against him for violating public peace and order.
On November 18, members of the veterans group Croatian Defense Forces (HOS) marched in a commemorative parade in Vukovar, marking the 26th anniversary of the siege of that city. The HOS members flew flags and displayed insignia bearing the World War II-era Ustasha salute “Za Dom Spremni.”
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, but the government did not always enforce these provisions effectively. While the law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, building owners and managers did not always comply, and there were no reported sanctions.
Children with disabilities attended all levels of school, although NGOs stated the lack of laws mandating equal access for persons with disabilities limited the access of students with disabilities to secondary and university education.
While constitutional protections against discrimination applied to all minorities, there was discrimination against ethnic Serbs and Roma. The November ombudsman’s report noted that ethnic discrimination, particularly against the Serb and Romani minorities, dominated unequal treatment complaints in 2016.
On September 2, an estimated 20 members of the A-HSP staged a demonstration in front of the Serbian National Council (SNV) offices in Zagreb, protesting the government’s decision to relocate the plaque bearing the phrase “Za Dom Spremni” from Jasenovac. A-HSP leader Drazen Keleminac burned a copy of the SNV newsletter Novosti, calling it an anti-Croatia publication. After a second incident in which members of the A-HSP burned Novosti (see section 2), police filed criminal charges against Keleminec for “public incitement of violence and hatred.”
The government allocated funds and created programs to assist in development and integration of Romani communities, but widespread discrimination and social exclusion of Roma remained a problem. The government supported Roma education initiatives, but Romani children faced obstacles to education, including discrimination in schools.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community reported, however, that discrimination remained a problem. The government decided to revise the 2016-20 National Plan for Combating Discrimination, a strategic document that set out priorities and targets and directed government efforts towards a comprehensive system of protection against discrimination, following criticism from groups that objected to aspects of the plan that addressed LGBTI and gender equality and other issues.
LGBTI NGOs noted uneven performance by the judiciary on discrimination cases. LGBTI activists reported that members of their community had limited access to justice, with many reluctant to report violations of their rights due to concerns regarding an inefficient judicial system and fear of further victimization during trial proceedings.
Two significant incidents of violence against LGBTI persons occurred. In February an unidentified attacker released tear gas at an LGBTI party at a Zagreb nightclub, affecting approximately 300 persons. In June, approximately one week before the Zagreb pride march, a Brazilian citizen suffered physical injuries from the security guards at a popular Zagreb club after he was seen being intimate with another man.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS remained a problem. The NGO Croatian Association for HIV (HUHIV) reported some physicians and dentists refused to treat HIV-positive patients. HUHIV reported violations of confidentiality of persons diagnosed with HIV, with some facing discrimination including employment discrimination after disclosure of their status. There were reports that transplant centers refused to place HIV-positive patients on their lists of potential organ recipients.
HUHIV reported that the recently implemented National Plan for Fighting HIV helped combat the stigmatization and discrimination of persons with HIV/AIDS. In addition, HUHIV reported that an HIV diagnosis was no longer listed on government-supplied sick leave forms, protecting the privacy of HIV-positive individuals.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law provides for the right of workers to form or join unions of their choice, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The government generally respected these rights. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and allows unions to challenge firings in court. The law requires reinstatement of workers terminated for union activity.
Some limitations exist. There are restrictions on strikes and union activity for civilian employees of the military. Workers may strike only at the end of a contract or in specific circumstances cited in the contract, and only after completing mediation. Labor and management must jointly agree on a mediator if a dispute goes to mediation. If a strike is illegal, any participant may be dismissed and the union held liable for damages.
The law allows the government unilaterally to amend collective agreements in the public sector. Employees of local or regional governments may not bargain collectively. Manual labor and retail employees were often hired on fixed-term contracts that made it difficult for them to unionize; some employers hired workers for trial periods lasting three months, during which employees could be dismissed without cause. Workers on temporary contracts generally did not form or join unions due to fear of termination at the end of the trial period.
The government and employers generally respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The government was generally effective in enforcing laws. Penalties of one to 15 years imprisonment were considered sufficient to deter violations. Judicial procedures were subject to lengthy delays. The inefficiency of the court system hampered attempts to seek redress for antiunion discrimination and legal violations.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The state prosecutor reported no incidents of forced labor in 2016 or during the first six months of the year.
The government was partially effective in enforcing applicable laws. Identification of victims of forced labor was limited, although penalties for conviction of forced labor, one to 15 years imprisonment, were sufficiently stringent to deter violations if enforced. The sentencing rate of offenders for forced labor remained low, however, and was insufficient to deter violators. The government collaborated with several NGOs on public awareness programs.
There were isolated incidents of forced labor in private homes. Croatians, Bosnians, and Romanians were subjected to forced labor in agriculture. Romani children were at risk of forced begging (see section 7.c.).
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The minimum age for the employment of children is 15, the age at which compulsory education ends for most children. Minors between ages 15 and 18 who have not completed compulsory education may work only with prior approval from the government labor inspectorate and only if they would not suffer physically or mentally from the work. Children under 15 may work only in special circumstances and with the approval of the ombudsman for children. In 2016 there were 245 such requests, of which 243 were approved, usually for children to be filmed or to work in theatrical performances. The law prohibits workers under age 18 from working overtime, at night, or in dangerous conditions, including but not limited to construction, mining, and work with electricity. The Ministry of Labor and the Pension System, the ministry’s Office of the State Inspectorate, and the ombudsman for children are responsible for enforcing this regulation and did so adequately.
There were isolated instances of violations of child labor legislation. Labor inspectors identified 38 violations involving 24 minors. Violations involved minors working overtime or past curfew and occurred mainly in the hospitality, retail, services, food service, and tourism sectors. Some children were reportedly subject to early marriage that could result in domestic servitude (see section 6, Children).
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
Discrimination in employment or occupation occurred with regard to gender, disability, sexual orientation, HIV-positive status, and ethnicity, particularly for Roma. According to the ombudsman for gender equality, women experienced discrimination in employment, including in pay and promotion to managerial and executive positions. Women generally held lower-paying positions in the workforce. The 2014 report of the ombudsman for gender equality estimated that women earned 10 percent less than men. In addition, salaries were much lower in occupations filled mostly by women, while men more often filled higher-paying management positions.
The ombudsman for gender equality reported that women, regardless of education level, were more likely than men to lose their jobs. According to the ombudsman, government inspections were ineffective in uncovering and sanctioning employer violations.
The ombudsman for persons with disabilities reported that 2016 was the first year to mark an increase in employment of persons with disabilities, with a 34 percent increase in employment since 2014. The ombudsman for persons with disabilities concluded this increase was a direct result of new legislation that targets rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities and includes quotas and incentives for employers. The ombudsman reported underutilization of social and labor services provided by this legislation, stating the private sector lacked mechanisms to provide for and monitor reasonable accommodations for employing persons with disabilities.
LGBTI NGOs noted discrimination and harassment against LGBTI employees in the workplace, specifically in the health sector. Neither state nor private employers have regulations for protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the NGO Freedom House, while national labor legislation protects LGBTI employees against discrimination at the workplace, employers did not have adequate policies and procedures in place to guarantee protections. NGOs reported that LGBTI persons refrained from publicly expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity because they were vulnerable to termination of employment or demotion.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The State Bureau of Statistics reported that the minimum wage was slightly above official poverty income level. The law requires premium pay for overtime worked beyond the 40-hour workweek. Overtime is limited to 10 hours per week and 180 hours annually. The law does not address compulsory overtime. The law also entitles employees to at least four weeks of paid annual leave and seven days of personal leave in addition to national holidays. The law includes protections for women who recently gave birth, nursing women, persons who lost the ability to perform their jobs, and persons at risk of injury at their place of work.
The government set health and safety standards harmonized with EU laws and regulations, which are appropriate for the main industries in the country. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with occupational safety and health experts and not the worker. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in this situation.
The Office of the Labor Inspectorate provided for compliance with the labor law through on-site inspections. According to the Labor Inspectorate Annual Report for 2016, there were 236 inspectors. The inspectorate conducted 35,723 workplace inspections in 2016 (up 80 percent from 2015) and reported 5,867 violations of labor laws. The inspectorate referred 2,365 of these violations to misdemeanor courts for further action, and it temporarily closed 292 companies during the first six months of the year for labor law violations. The inspectorate issued fines for labor violations, which were deemed sufficient to deter future violations. Violations included employing workers without work permits, illegal labor contracts, failure to pay wages or benefits, failure to grant leave, failure to register employees with the pension authority, employing workers not registered with a health insurance agency, and failure to report overtime. Nonsafety violations of labor law were most common in the hospitality sector.
There were reports of employees working in the informal sector without labor protections. Nonpayment of wages and wage arrearages as well as nonpayment for overtime and holiday work were problems. The law allows employees to sue employers for wage nonpayment and provides a penalty of up to three years in prison for convicted employers. The law, however, exempts employers who fail to pay wages due to economic duress. Workers may sue employers who do not issue pay slips to their employees in order to bypass mandatory employer contributions to social insurance programs. During 2016 inspectors identified 5,138 persons who were not paid the minimum wage by their employers; the employers were fined. During the same period, municipal prosecutors initiated 133 criminal proceedings against employers.
Of 35,723 inspections in 2016, 8,149 inspections involved work safety standards that prompted 1,997 orders for implementing measures proscribed by the labor law, particularly in the construction sector. The inspectors issued 267 misdemeanors and 738 fines totaling 7,748,000 kuna ($1.23 million) for various violations of safety standards.