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: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
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.