Croatia Human Rights Committee (List of Issues) Violence Against Women June 2012

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with Autonomous Women’s House Zagreb submitted a list of issues report focusing on domestic violence in Croatia to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC).

Croatia reported over 15,000 cases of domestic violence in 2010. The government of Croatia has taken some steps to curb domestic violence, but certain aspects of the legislation, enforcement, and support structures still remain ineffective or problematic in their implementation. The Advocates identified questions the HRC should pose during its review of Croatia’s compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to emphasize the ways in which Croatia should better protect the rights of victims of domestic violence and hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable.

Croatia enacted the misdemeanor Law on Protection against Domestic Violence (LPDV), creating several important protective measures for women. Croatia’s efforts to combat domestic violence through legal reform are to be welcomed. Nevertheless, deficiencies in the legal system continue to hamper efforts to prevent and punish acts of domestic violence. Police often arrest and prosecute the victim; mandatory reporting laws compromise victim confidentiality; and laws and practices can hold victims responsible when children witness domestic violence.

Furthermore, mandatory mediation forces victims to confront their abusers in divorce proceedings. Also, the principle of double jeopardy precludes the effective use of multiple legal avenues—i.e. the domestic violence law and criminal prosecution—at the same time. Troublingly, an appeal automatically suspends all protective measures, stripping vulnerable victims of the protection they sought in the first place.

The questions presented by The Advocates aim to guide the HRC’s review of Croatia toward acknowledging the shortcomings of the country’s domestic violence system and identifying remedies for those shortcomings. The HRC adopted many of The Advocates’ recommended questions in paragraphs 10 and 11 of its List of Issues report.