National frameworks to address hate crime in Croatia

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Croatia. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Croatia's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Police officers must identify a motive for every crime committed. A person's race, colour, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity are identified as protected characteristics in Croatia's criminal code. The recording of hate crimes by police and other authorities is governed by the 2011 Protocol on procedure in cases of hate crime.

This protocol requires that police officers establish, inter alia: (a) the affiliation of the injured party with a group, membership of which is a motive for a hate crime; (b) the motive for the hate crime and the perpetrators' membership of a group; (c) the consequences; (d) how it was established that the incident was motivated by hatred. Police officers will identify and log hate crimes through electronic forms in the Ministry of Interior's information system, which is used to monitor all criminal cases.

Under a 2006 internal instruction, reflected by the protocol on hate crime, prosecutors are required to identify hate crime cases and record the file number, name of suspects and type of criminal offence. The Public Prosecution Service is obliged to keep records of all cases of hate crime.

The criminal departments in municipal courts and first instance misdemeanour courts are responsible for keeping separate records of hate crimes, collecting data on the numbers of cases, their outcomes, the number of defendants and the duration of the trial and sanctions. Both judicial bodies record their cases in a case management system. When a case marked as a hate crime enters the system, it is flagged as such, so that the case can be extracted and summarized at the end of the reporting period.

Police data on hate crimes are compiled every six months by the Ministry of Interior and forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service. After adding the information received from the Public Prosecution Service for the reporting period, the dataset is finalized by the Ministry of Justice, which adds judicial information, such as the outcome of the trial. The Ministry of Justice submits the six-month report to the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities, which consolidates and publishes the data on its website.

Hate crime victim support

There are both general support structures and some specialized support providers for victims of hate crime in Croatia. Croatian law recognizes hate crime victims as a particularly vulnerable category of victim.

The Croatian government has adopted an inter-agency “Protocol on the Procedure for Hate Crimes”. The Protocol ensures the effective functioning of competent authorities involved in the detection, treatment and prosecution of hate crimes, with the aim of improving the hate crime monitoring system and the protection of victims of hate crimes. The Protocol is periodically updated.

The Ministry of Justice runs a country-wide Victim and Witness Support Service, which carries out activities to develop and co-ordinate the country’s victim support system. As part of this service, hate crime victims are eligible for the general services provides to all crime victims. Support to victims is also delivered by the County Court Support Departments, as well as through the National Call Centre for the victims and witnesses of crimes and misdemeanors, which refers victims to the competent authorities. 

Co-operation between the State and civil society on victim support is institutionalized through a government-funded network. Network members provide emotional and practical support by means of technical and practical information (including on victims’ rights), psychosocial and legal counselling, escorts to court and police station, State Attorney’s Office and social welfare centres. Support is also provided in cases where crimes are not reported to the authorities and after criminal proceedings are over. However, specialist support providers for hate crime victims are not integrated into the general support system but operate individually.

Information about victims’ rights and available support services is included in documentation provided to victims by police officers on first contact, as well as in materials distributed by social welfare centers and healthcare facilities. The list of service providers is updated on an annual basis, but not all specialized hate crime victim support services are covered by these materials. There are no automatic referrals to services provided by CSOs, and the referral system is disconnected from the process of individual needs assessment (INA).  

The INA procedure is mandatory for all criminal justice bodies. However, the form used by the police is very basic and does not capture all the necessary information. The Victim and Witness Support Service uses its own INA questionnaire. There is no guidance on the process, and the role of CSOs in assessing the specific needs of victims is marginal. Some professionals conducting INAs, including representatives of civil society, receive specialized training.

Victims of crime have procedural rights and a range of extra-procedural protection measures. On first contact, police or judicial authorities are obliged to communicate clearly with victims and in a sensitive manner. Based on the results of the INA, victims may be granted the following special protection measures and rights: legal aid; the right to be interviewed by a person of the same sex as the victim, or by the same person if further interviews are necessary; the right to refuse to answer questions with no connection to the case or those related to the victim’s personal life; the use of audiovisual equipment during interviews; the right to the protection of personal data; and the right to exclude the public from the hearing. All victims have the right to be accompanied by a trusted person during proceedings. Moreover, all victims of violent crimes, including hate crime victims, have the right to file a claim for compensation. This right can be exercised not only by persons who directly suffer the consequences of a violent crime, but also by the indirect victims of the crime. Croatian law does not provide for restorative justice solutions in hate crime cases.

Please note that the above text may be subject to updates based on information provided by the National Point of Contact