New Report: Implementation of Croatia's Domestic Violence Legislation

The Advocates for Human Rights has released a new report entitled Implementation of Croatia's Domestic Violence Legislation. The report is the result of extensive fact-finding in Croatia to assess how its laws are working to protect domestic violence victims and hold offenders accountable. The report was released in partnership with the Autonomous Women's House Zagreb and  the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation. The authors conducted interviews with police, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, advocates, legislators, ministry officials, academics, and journalists, among others.

The authors found that domestic violence in Croatia is a serious problem that is often exacerbated by troubling practices in law enforcement and the judicial system. Dual arrests--where both the offender and victim are arrested--are widespread throughout the country because of a legal provision that allows a victim who has verbally insulted her abuser to receive the same punishment as the abuser, who has physically beaten her. In another traumatizing and harmful practice called "facing," judges often force victims of domestic violence to confront their abusers. When a judge is unsure of who is telling the truth, they will force the parties to face each other standing a few meters apart, look one another in the eye, and recount their version of what happened. Judges claim they can decide which party is lying by reading the parties' facial expressions and body language.

The Advocates' team spent 10 days in October, 2012,  in Croatia along with their partners and presented the report to Croatia's Parliament, Board of Gender Equality, and other stakeholders including ombudspersons, police, judges, shelter workers, Centers for Social Welfare, and NGOs.

Read the full report here.

Compiled from: The Advocates for Human Rights, Implementation of Croatia's Domestic Violence Legislation (2012).