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 the criminal code. The recording of hate crimes by police and other authorities is governed by the "Protocol for Procedure in Cases of Hate Crimes" (2011), which was updated in 2021 (Official Gazette, No. 43/2021).

Croatia's Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities (OHRRNM) is in charge of collecting and publishing hate crime data. In line with the updated 2021 Protocol, for the purpose of statistical monitoring, a 'hate crime' is defined as a criminal offence, hate speech act and misdemeanour committed because of another person's "race", skin colour, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic.

According to the Protocol, police must collect the data and information necessary to clarify and prosecute the hate crime for which the investigation is conducted, with particular emphasis on identifying:

(a) the affiliation, either real or presumed by the perpetrator, of the victim to a group protected under Art. 87(21) of the Criminal Code, or the linking of the victim with a member of a protected group, as the motive for the commission of the hate crime;

(b) consequences;

(c) method of commission of the offence; and

(d) qualification of the offence.

When identifying a hate crime, the following bias indicators are used:

  • the victim's affiliation with a group protected under Art. 1(1) herein, or indications of such an affiliation;
  • the perpetrator's perception that the victim belongs to a group protected under Art. 1(1) herein;
  • the link between the victim and a person whose affiliation to a group could have motivated the hate crime;
  • the link between a damaged or destroyed object and a person whose affiliation to a group could have motivated the hate crime, the perpetrator's affiliation with a group, or the perpetrator's link with a group engaged in extremist activities;
  • the perpetrator's earlier convictions for hate crimes or other punishable acts motivated by hate;
  • the victim's perception of the motive of the offence;
  • the witnesses' perception of the motive of the offence;
  • any racist, extremist, xenophobic or homophobic expressions, and any verbal and non-verbal prejudices (gestures, symbols etc.) targeting protected groups used in the context of the commission of the offence;
  • the presence of banners, flags, leaflets, graffiti, symbols or other materials inciting hatred in the context of the commission of the offence;
  • the frequency of hate speech used by the perpetrator on the internet, targeting a specific protected group;
  • the time of commission of the offence in the context of religious, historical or social significance for members of a protected group;
  • the location of the offence being a common gathering place of members of a protected group;
  • the registration of similar incidents in the same time period; and
  • a lack of any other evident motive.

The Ministry of the Interior collects and updates the following data in relation to hate crime cases:

  • the case number;
  • the number of perpetrators;
  • the number of victims;
  • the place and time the offence was committed;
  • the classification of the criminal offence or misdemeanour; and
  • the indication of the characteristic referred to in Art. 87(21) of the Criminal Code or Art. 325 of the Criminal Code in relation to which the crime was committed; and
  • the indication of the characteristic referred to in Art. 1(1) herein in relation to which the crime was committed.

The State Attorney's Office is also responsible for keeping records on hate crimes. The courts are obligated to mark cases relating to hate crimes and update them in the case-management IT system.

The courts forward their final decisions in cases relating to hate crimes, in anonymized form, to the OHRRNM, which analyses them with the aim of planning and implementing an efficient policy on combating hate crime. The courts are encouraged to publish their final decisions in cases relating to hate crime on the case law portal.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration is responsible for consolidating data on cases relating to hate crime on the basis of data contained in the case management IT system. The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration submits the collected data to the OHRRNM periodically, for the previous six-month period, that is, by 1 September for the period between January and June of the current year, and by 1 March for the period between July and December of the previous year.

The OHRRNM then 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 for Procedure in Cases of 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 hate crime victims. The Protocol was last updated in 2021.

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. Victim support 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 misdemeanours, which refers victims to the competent authorities.

Co-operation between the State and civil society organizations (CSOs) on victim support is institutionalized through the "Network of support and co-operation for victims and witnesses of criminal offences", funded by the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, which operates in 17 counties of Croatia. 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, the 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 have concluded. 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 centres 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). In 2022, a pilot project established a national call centre for crime victims in two counties. The call centre proactively contacts victims upon their referral by the police. The project is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Justice in co-operation with the Ministry of Interior and the Victim and Witness Support Service CSO, which runs the call centre.

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 limited. According to the Ordinance on the manner of conducting an individual victim assessment, the bodies that conduct the INA may obtain the necessary information from victim support organizations and institutions, including CSOs, and are required to consider the recommendations of victim support CSOs to determine particular measures. Specialized training on conducting INAs is available to some judges, prosecutors, police officers and CSO representatives.

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 audio-visual 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.

Hate crime capacity building

Hate crime training was integrated in the National Police Curriculum at all levels of police education (basic police training, professional development and specialization, and higher police education), and is therefore a standard and mandatory part of the police training curriculum.