Human Rights House Foundation

Croatia

Image: ''Persons of other nationality, please go to the other side of street'' 
Copyright: CMS

Vego: Anti-discrimination is not a law, it's a way of life

Center for Peace Studies - CMS took part in drafting the Act on Elimination of Discrimination in the Republic of Croatia – ZDS. Legal experts in the Republic of Croatia, evaluated the law itself as passable, but had remarks to make on the shortcomings of certain parts and provisions of the Act. Their remarks are mostly on the lack of a certain hierarchy between discriminatory basis.

Monday, 10 May 2010, by HRH Sarajevo / Lejla Mazlic

Center for Peace Studies - CMS took participation in drafting the Act on Elimination of Discrimination in the Republic of Croatia – ZDS. According to their standpoint, the unfortunate fact is that the need for such comprehensive legislation in Croatia was not created as a need to achieve a common good for Croatian society, as systematic work on reducing inequalities, but was only a harmonization of national legislation with Acquis communautaire. This situation is clearly visible from the official explanation of ZSD i.e. that obligation for adjustment with EU standards, was the main reason of the proceedings of this Act.

Legal experts in Croatia, evaluated the law itself as passable, however they have made a few remarks on the shortcomings of certain parts and provisions of the Act. Made remarks are mostly related to the lack of a certain hierarchy between discriminatory basis. 

Specifically, the highest level of protection should enjoy the so-called, ‘’traditional basis’’ (race and ethnicity, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion) in order to eliminate obstacles for equality of those social groups which have long history of discrimination, since they were in subordinate position in society.

Image: Lana Vego, CMS
Copyright: e-balkan.net‘’The special protection of these 6 basis is left on the goodwill and interpretation of the Croatian courts, and anyone who is at least superficially familiar with the system of protection of human rights, cannot really stay too optimistic in this case’’, says Lana Vego from CMS (right) in her article for e-balkan.net.

Furthermore, the frequent criticism is relating to the prescribed exceptions to discrimination. One of the controversial exceptions is an exception which is allows to bring everyone in an unfavorable position on the basis of their citizenship when it is permitted by separate regulations.

‘’In practice this means guaranteeing certain rights only to persons of a particular nationality such as the right to participate in elections or employment in sensitive areas such as security sector (which is justified), however there is a practice that this exception knows to be the cover for discrimination on other grounds such as race, nationality and religious belief under the pretext of citizenship’’, adds Ms. Vego.

Another controversial situation is related to the respect of the rights and obligations in family relationships, according to which there is permitted discrimination on any ground in terms of rights and obligations in family relationships if it is justified in three cases: for legitimate purposes, for the protection of public morals or for ‘’the facilitation of marriage’’. Having in mind such broad exceptions, it is necessary to strengthen the control fuses, in order to avoid usage of these exceptions for discriminative actions.

‘’With all the disadvantages and difficulties we had with the passing of this Act, and with the clear awareness of the extent and amount of work that exist, small improvements are made in combating discrimination in Croatia, although there’s still a long way ahead of us’’, concludes Vego. 

HRH Sarajevo / Lejla Mazlic
Based on e-balkan article

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