Roundtable_Procedural rights_27 June

Human rights protections in Croatia: Hate crimes and presumption of innocence

Human Rights House Zagreb deepened its research and activities addressing hate crimes and hate speech, and the presumption of innocence in Croatia, through reports and events in June 2019.

Presumption of innocence

Holding the roundtable discussion “Presumption of innocence and procedural rights of suspects in Croatia”, the House addressed the human rights of the accused and suspects in criminal proceedings. This focused especially on the right of access to a lawyer in pre-trial proceedings, audiovisual recording of interrogations, the right to participate in criminal proceedings, and strengthening mechanisms to protect the presumption of innocence.

During the discussion, HRH Zagreb presented the conclusions of two research reports that analyse the compliance of Croatian criminal procedure rules with EU legal standards.: “The importance of appearances: How suspects and accused persons are presented in the courtroom, in public and in the media” and “Procedural rights observed by the Camera – Audiovisual recording of interrogations in the EU“.

Towards the end of 2018, HRH Zagreb published research and undertook advocacy work to strengthen standards on the presumption of innocence, disability rights, and protection for whistleblowers.

Hate crimes

Considering the expanding issue of hate crimes throughout the EU, HRH Zagreb conducted training for police officers on recognising hate crimes, to advance their existing knowledge and skills in dealing with actual or potential victims. Various academic and legal experts presented criminal legal aspects of hate crimes in Croatia, and participants took part in group exercises on recognising and prosecuting hate crimes. The training focused on the specific needs of victims, including raising awareness of existing support services and victim assistance.

Training for police officers on hate crime_17 June
Training for police officers on hate crime, 17 June

HRH Zagreb and its member organisations have carried out research, raised awareness, and offered practical guidance on the issues of hate crime and hate speech. This includes the House contributing to the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI’s) May 2018 report, which warned of growing nationalism and hate speech in Croatia. In September 2016, the House held a public discussion and launched initiatives to combat hate speech.

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