Croatia - Human Rights Committee - Violence Against Women - March 2015

The report outlines reasons for the continued increase in domestic violence in Croatia and for the increasing number of cases that go unreported. For example, in 2011, Parliament amended Article 215A of the Criminal Code to restrict the definition of domestic violence to only bodily injury, threats, or sexual attacks. Restricting the definition makes it difficult for some victims to prove domestic violence has occurred, especially if it has taken place at a low level over a prolonged period.  Another issue the report highlights is the inadequate funding for victim shelters, violating victims’ rights under the ICCPR. Shelters receive state funding, but that funding is not enough to meet the demand for services they provide.

The Croatian system favors a psycho-social treatment program for perpetrators over any other process that would offer immediate protection to victims. Judges order psycho-social treatment in jurisdictions that lack adequate funding for such programs. As a result, there a large time gap between the time the judge orders the treatment and time the program begins. The legal system also lacks an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure perpetrators attend all required sessions.

Croatia’s Law on Protection against Domestic Violence does not offer legal protection to victims during or after the trial process if they have no children with the perpetrator or if the victim has not lived with the perpetrator for at least three years. With the changes to Article 215A under the new Criminal Code,  many perpetrators with pending cases will escape prosecution because Croatian law applies the criminal law with the lesser punishment after an amendment enters force. This change puts many victims at further risk.