Croatia: U.N. Experts Review Croatia's Compliance with Torture Convention

The U.N. Committee against Torture (CAT Committee) recently reviewed Croatia’s compliance with the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Torture Convention). As part of Croatia’s review, the Advocates for Human Rights and Autonomous Women's House Zagreb submitted a shadow report to the CAT Committee outlining the prevalence of domestic violence in the country. The two advocacy organizations argued that Croatia’s persistent failure to hold perpetrators accountable and protect victims of domestic violence violated Croatia’s obligations under the Torture Convention.

The shadow report documented the many gaps in Croatia’s domestic violence and family laws that punish victims instead of their abusers. Identified gaps include legal loopholes in Croatia’s 2013 Law on Prevention against Domestic Violence that allow police to arrest and charge victims along with perpetrators. The report called on Croatia to amend its laws to prioritize the protection of women and their children from violence. The report also recommended trainings for police, prosecutors and the judiciary in the proper application of safety measures for victims as well as consistent funding for domestic violence shelters and free legal aid.

At Croatia’s review session, CAT Committee experts questioned Croatia about reported deficiencies and loopholes in the country’s domestic violence laws. The Committee expressed specific concern that the Croatian police were not properly trained in how to handle cases of domestic violence and did not act to protect victims.

Compiled from: Committee against Torture considers report of CroatiaU.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (November 14, 2013); The Advocates for Human Rights and Autonomous Women’s House ZagrebCroatia: 53RD Session of the Committee Against Torture, Written Statement submitted by The Advocates for Human Rights, an NGO in special consultative status and Autonomous Women’s House Zagreb, U.N. Committee against Torture (3-8 November 2014).