Croatia Ombudsman

Overview:

The Office of the Ombudsman/Woman is  a  predominantly promotion-type and  complaints based body. As the National Equality Body the Ombudsman/woman has a preventive role in the protection against discrimination through promoting equality and through centralized data collection.  S/he has the authority to receive discrimination complaints based on 12 discrimination grounds (e.g. race and ethnic origin, religion and belief, age, health status etc...) since his/her mandate does not include handling discrimination cases based on gender, marital or family status, gender identity and expression and sexual orientation (Ombudsman/woman for gender equality), disability (Ombudsman/woman for persons with disabilities) or handling complaints that concern discrimination of children (Ombudsman/woman for children). In the Annual Report to the Croatian Parliament, s/he provides an analysis and assessment of the situation with regard to the protection and promotion of equality. As NEB, data on all 17 protected grounds is included is this Report.

Brief history

The institution of the Ombudsman is established by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia as independent and autonomous. The Ombudsman reports to the Croatian Parliament. The institution was established in 1992 as an Ombudsman type and has since been changing and receiving additional duties:

  • In its core ombudsman mandate (since 1992, based on the Croatian Constitution and the Ombudsman Act), the Ombudsman protects human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, laws and international legal instruments on human rights and freedoms ratified by the Republic of Croatia and proceeds upon complaints in cases when constitutional or legal rights have been threatened or violated as a result of illegal or irregular act of governmental bodies and the civil service, local and regional self-governmental bodies and bodies vested with public authority.
  • Based on the Anti-discrimination Act, on January 1st 2009 the institution became the Central Equality Body. In order to liaise and cooperate with similar bodies within the European Union the Office of the Ombudsman entered the membership of EQUINET on January 1st 2009.
  • In 2012 the Ombudsman also started conducting duties as the National Preventive Mechanism under the UN Convention Against Torture (based on the Act on this matter from 2011).
  • In 2013 and again in 2019 the Ombudsman was reaccredited as an „A“ status national human rights institution for protection and promotion of human rights by the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights thus confirming that its status conforms to high extent the criteria of the Paris Principles (these are: independence guaranteed by constitution or law, autonomous status regarding the government, pluralistic membership, a broad mandate for protection and promotion of human rights, sufficient means for independent work and investigative powers).
  • In 2019 the Ombudsman was entrusted with external reporting of irregularities within the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act

As mentioned, the institution became the Central Equality Body with the entry into force of the Anti-discrimination Act on January 1st 2009.

The Anti-discrimination Act provides for the protection and promotion of equality as one of the highest values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia, creates prerequisites for the realization of equal opportunities and regulates protection against discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic affiliation or color, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social origin, property status, trade union membership, education, social status, marital or family status, age, health status, disability, genetic heritage, gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.

In the capacity of the Central Equality Body the Office of the Ombudsman has the responsibility to collect and analyse statistical data on discrimination concerning all of the grounds stated in the Anti-discrimination Act as well as to inform the Croatian Parliament on the occurrences of discrimination on the basis of these grounds in his/her annual report (and when required, special reports), to conduct surveys concerning discrimination, to give opinions and recommendations, and to suggest appropriate legal and strategic solutions to the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

Responsibility for dealing with complaints encompasses 12 out of 17 grounds stated in the Act since specialised ombuds are responsible for dealing with complaints based on gender, marital or family status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation and disability.
According to the Anti-discrimination Act when handling discrimination complaints the Ombudsman/woman has the power to:

  • receive reports of all the natural and legal persons referred to in Article 10 of the Anti-discrimination Act;
  • provide necessary information to natural and legal persons that have filed a discrimination complaint with regard to their rights and obligations and about the possibilities of judicial and other protection;
  • if the court proceedings have not yet been initiated, examine individual reports and take actions falling within his/her competence required for elimination of discrimination and protection of rights of discriminated persons;
  • with the parties’ consent, conduct mediation with a possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement;
  • file criminal charges related to discrimination cases to the competent state attorney’s office.

Also, based on the Anti-discrimination Act, the Ombudsman/woman has the power to start misdemeanour proceedings and to intervene in the court proceedings on behalf of the party that has been discriminated against. Under specific circumstances s/he can also start proceedings in his/her own name when the right to equal treatment of a larger group of persons has been violated.
Professional and administrative services for the Ombudsman/woman are provided by the Office of the Ombudsman/woman. The allocation of funds necessary for the functioning of the institution is apportioned in the annual budget of the Republic of Croatia.

Mandate Type

Predominantly promotion-type and legal support body

Litigation power:

  • Bringing proceedings in own name
  • Intervening before the court
  • Formally deciding on complaints (e.g. decision or recommendation addressed to the parties) Not legally binding

Activities

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups ( e.g. through trainings )
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)
Recommendations on discrimination issues
Publications and reports
Research projects (including surveys)

Our institution has a mandate to deal with:

  • Hate crime
  • Hate speech

Other statistics:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)144147202248263284387277317270
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)144147202248263283387277317270
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media40

Other informations about the statistics

The Ombudsman/woman as the National Equality Body collects statistics on all 17 protected grounds from special ombudspersons. This joint statistics is also reported to the Parliament in Ombudsman/woman's annual report. Joint statistics include information about gender of complainants, grounds, areas and structure of entities that the complaint was directed against.

Management

  • Single headed equality body (led by director or ombudsman/commissioner)

Management details

The institution of the Ombudsman is headed by the Ombudsman/woman and his/her 3 deputies. One deputy Ombudsman/woman deals with anti-discrimination issues and is the head of the Department for Non-discrimination.

Additional details

There are six departments in the Office: Human Rights Protection Department, Department for Persons deprived of liberty and NPM, Department for Non-discrimination, Whistleblower protection Department, Communication, Cooperation and Promotion Department and General Service Department.

In addition to the central office in Zagreb, we have established regional offices in Rijeka, Osijek and Split, in an effort to increase accessibility and reach more citizens.

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

In line with the Article 10 of the Ombudsman Act the Ombudsman is appointed by the Croatian Parliament for a term of eight years with the possibility of reappointment.  At the latest six months before the expiry of the Ombudsman mandate, or no later than 30 days after the termination of office due to other reasons, the Croatian Parliament publishes a public call to propose the candidates for Ombudsman. The Committee on the Constitution, Standing Orders and Political System, with prior opinion of the Committee on Human and National Minority Rights of the Croatian Parliament, shall propose at least two candidates for Ombudsman according to the received applications from the public call and it shall be submitted to the Croatian Parliament.

A person who meets the following conditions may be elected Ombudsman:

  • Croatian citizenship and residence in the territory of the Republic of Croatia,
  • completed integrated undergraduate and graduate university study of the legal profession,
  • at least 15 years of work experience in the profession,
  • a prominent expert who enjoys in public the reputation of a person of high moral principles and a protector and promoter of human rights and freedoms, ie the rule of law,
  • who has not been convicted and against whom no criminal proceedings have been instituted for criminal offenses for which proceedings are initiated ex officio,
  • who is not a member of a political party.

As regards the deputies, the Ombudsman has at least three deputies. The deputy Ombudsman is
elected by the Croatian Parliament for a term of eight years, with the possibility of reappointment.
The Ombudsman proposes candidates for his/her deputies to the Croatian Parliament within 30 days
after the termination of a public call for application.
The Ombudsman and his deputies may not perform any other public or professional duties or be members of a political party

The Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsmen shall have the same immunity as members of the Croatian Parliament, meaning their criminal prosecution is possible only after parliamentary consent, except for crimes with five or more years of imprisonment mandated.

Number of staff dealing with equality issues

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
4447789910

Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body

Grounds / Fields Employment Education Housing Social Protection & Healthcare Goods and Services Other
Gender
Gender Identity
Race and Ethnic Origin
Age
Disability
Sexual Orientation
Religion & Belief
Other grounds:

We are authorized to cover the grunds of grounds of race or ethnic affiliation or color, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social origin, property status, trade union membership, education, social status, age, health status, and genetic heritage.

Other fields:

Non-exhaustive list of the field we cover includes:

1. work and working conditions; opportunities for self-employment or self-employment, including selection criteria and conditions for employment and promotion; access to all types of vocational guidance, vocational training and retraining,
2. education, science and sports,
3. social security, including the area of social welfare, pension and health insurance and unemployment insurance,
4. health care,
5. judiciary and administration,
6. housing,
7. public information and media,
8. access to and provision of goods and services,
9. membership and activities in trade unions, civil society organizations, political parties or any other organizations,
10. participation in cultural and artistic creation.

Mandate covers:

  • Public sector
  • Private sector

Operating budget in euros

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1398.229911234.58721190.5973512971841441087152813416236941676690

Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions)

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
141.52458163.50460150.978178.266193.335216.764231.601239.698276.059300.374

We are accountable to

  • National Parliament