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 2011 "Protocol for Procedure in Cases of Hate Crimes", 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 Protocol, police officers must establish, inter alia:  

  1. the victim's affiliation, either real or presumed by the perpetrator, with a protected group as defined by characteristics included in Article 87(21) of the Criminal Code, namely: race, skin colour, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, disability, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity;  

  1. the motive for the hate crime and the perpetrators' membership of a group;  

  1. the consequences of the crime;  

  1. the method of commission of the offence; and  

  1. how it was established that the incident was motivated by hatred.  

 

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

  1. the victim’s affiliation with a protected group or indications about such an affiliation  

  1. the perpetrator's perception that the victim belongs to a protected group;  

  1. the link between the victim and a person whose affiliation to a group could have motivated the hate crime, or the link between a damaged or destroyed object and a person whose affiliation to a group could have motivated the hate crime;  

  1. The perpetrator's affiliation with a group, or the perpetrator's link to a group, engaged in extremist activities;  

  1. the perpetrator's earlier convictions for hate crimes or other punishable acts motivated by hate;  

  1. the victim's or witnesses' perception of the motive of the offence;  

  1. the use of racist, extremist, xenophobic and homophobic expressions (verbal or non-verbal, including gestures, symbols etc.) against a protected group during the offence; 

  1. the presence of banners, flags, leaflets, graffiti, symbols and other materials inciting hatred during the offence;  

  1. the frequency of hate speech used by the perpetrator online to target a specific protected group;  

  1. the time and place of the offence in the context of religious, historical or social significance for members of a protected group; and 

  1. a lack of any other evident motive. 

 

Police officers will identify and log hate crimes through electronic forms in the Ministry of Interior's information system used to monitor all criminal cases. According to a 2006 internal instruction reflected in the Protocol, 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 (PPS) 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 number 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 PPS. The courts then forward their final decisions in cases relating to hate crimes in an anonymized form to the OHRRNM, which will analyse the cases with the aim of planning and implementing an efficient policy on combating hate crime. The courts are encouraged to publish their final decisions in hate crime cases on the case-law portal. The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration finally consolidates data on hate crime cases based on the data contained in the case-management IT system. The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration submits data collected to the OHRRNM on 1 September (for the period between January and June) and on 1 March (for the period between July and December). 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 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. 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 the 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 marginal. According to the Ordinance on the means of implementation of victim's individual needs 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.