COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
4-22 February 2002
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the fourth and fifth periodic
reports of Croatia (CERD/C/373/Add.1) at its 1499th and
1500th meetings, on 6 and 7 March 2002, and, at its 1517th
meeting, on 19 March 2002, adopted the following concluding
2. The Committee welcomes the report submitted by the State
party and expresses its appreciation for the dialogue with
the high-level delegation and for the answers given orally
to the wide range of questions asked by members. While appreciating
the extensive supplementary information given to it during
the examination of the report, the Committee regrets that
the responses to its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/304/Add.55),
dated 10 February 1999, were not included in the body of
the State party report.
3. The Committee regrets further that the report contains
information mainly on the legal framework for the protection
of rights of minorities and does not give sufficient information
on the implementation of such legislation or on the extent
to which minority communities enjoy the protection afforded
by the Convention.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
4. The Committee notes that the State party is going through
a difficult period of economic and social challenges in
a period of post war reconstruction, which has resulted
in obstacles to the full implementation of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
5. The Committee welcomes the efforts of the State party
to introduce legislative reform in accordance with international
standards, and to establish institutions, programmes and
policies to promote equality. In particular, the Committee
welcomes the adoption of the Associations Act, the establishment
of the Office for Human Rights, the elaboration of an education
project to enhance equality for minorities and promote multiculturalism,
the implementation of programmes for education in human
rights within the school environment, and the introduction
of human rights training for police officers and judges.
6. The Committee notes with appreciation the State party's
statement of cooperation with the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as well as appropriate
United Nations bodies, including the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and regional organisations.
7. The Committee welcomes the State party's stated commitment
to involve non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the
preparation of its next periodic report to the Committee
as well as its statement of intent to subscribe to article
14 of the Convention.
D. Concerns and Recommendation
8. The Committee
reiterates its concern about the lack of clarity as to the
various definitions used in the report and in domestic legislation
to describe ethnic and national minorities. The Committee
is concerned that the recent withdrawal of the draft Constitutional
Law on the Rights of National Minorities will create further
delays in legislative protection for such minorities.
The Committee recommends that the State party include in
its next periodic report clarification as to the legal definitions
used for describing different minorities. It encourages
the State party to finalise the Constitutional Law on the
Rights of National Minorities in conformity with international
standards and to include information regarding this matter
in its next report.
9. It is noted that statistical data provided in the State
party report are based on the 1991 census and that the results
of the census of 2001 are still pending. The Committee is
concerned that the delay in the publication of the results
may create distrust among communities and has presented
some difficulties for the Committee in undertaking effective
analysis of issues affecting minorities.
The Committee strongly encourages the State party to finalise
and publish the general population census conducted in 2001
in order to, inter alia, implement provisions of the law
affecting political representation as well as to ensure,
as necessary, special protection and benefits for ethnic
minorities. Moreover, it is recommended that the next periodic
report include updated statistical data on the demographic
composition of the Croatian population.
10. With respect to article 2 of the Convention, the Committee
remains concerned about the limited representation of minorities
in the Croatian Parliament. While it is noted that the Act
on Election of Representatives to the Croatian State Parliament
provides for proportional representation of minorities,
the Committee is concerned that not all minority groups
are included in this process while others are underrepresented.
In particular, it is noted that the Bosnians are not included
in the list of minorities who may exercise the right to
be represented in Parliament.
It is recommended that the State party take further measures
to ensure fair and adequate representation of all groups
of minorities in the Croatian Parliament and to include
in its forthcoming report information concerning the measures
taken in this regard.
11. The Committee expresses concern at the continued practice
of segregation of Roma children within the educational system
and the reports on discrimination against the Roma regarding
access to employment, health, political representation and
The Committee recommends that the State party pay particular
attention to the situation of the Roma and take effective
measures to prevent racial segregation against Roma children
within the educational system. The Committee further recommends
that the State party strengthen its efforts to address the
high dropout and poor performance rates of Roma children
and guarantee non-discrimination, especially as regards
respect for their cultural identity, language and values.
The Committee also encourages the State party to reinforce
its efforts to train and recruit Roma teachers and to prevent
discrimination against the Roma in access to employment,
health, political representation and citizenship rights.
12. The Committee reiterates its concern regarding the lack
of legal provisions to implement the State party's obligations
under article 4 (b) of the Convention, notably the absence
of legislative measures prohibiting incitement to racial
discrimination and violence. Concern is also expressed about
the adequacy of efforts by the State party to investigate
and prosecute persons responsible for fomenting ethnic hatred,
especially in the localities affected by war. In this connection,
the Committee notes that there have been no convictions
by the courts for incitement to racial discrimination and
violence, despite the significant numbers of such allegations.
The Committee recommends that the State party comply fully
with the obligations under article 4 of the Convention and
that necessary legislative measures be taken in order to
give full effect to the provisions of that article and to
declare illegal and prosecute incitement to ethnic hatred
and racial violence.
13. While noting the challenges confronted by the State
party in meeting the needs of large numbers of refugees,
returnees and displaced persons, the Committee is concerned
that return is still hindered by legal and administrative
impediments and hostile attitudes adopted by some central
and local officials. In this regard, concern is further
expressed about allegations of inconsistency and lack
transparency in the National Programme for 'Return'.
The Committee is particularly concerned about the insufficient
efforts of the State party to prevent discrimination
minorities, especially Croatian Serbs, in addressing
issues of restitution of property, tenancy and occupancy
reconstruction assistance as well
as the inter-related issues of residency and citizenship
The Committee recommends that the State party introduce
further measures to ensure fairness, consistency and
in the National Programme for Return. Further, the State
party is strongly urged to take effective measures to
discrimination, especially against Croatian Serbs, particularly
as regards the restitution of their property, tenancy
occupancy rights, access to reconstruction assistance
and rights to residency and citizenship. It is recommended
the State party provide in its next periodic report information
concerning the steps taken to introduce effective legal
and administrative regimes to resolve these issues. The
Committee calls the attention of the State party to its
XXII (49) of 16 August 1996 concerning the rights of
refugees and displaced persons.
14. With respect to article 5 of the Convention, the Committee
restates its concern regarding inconsistency between articles
8 and 16 of the Croatian Law on Citizenship, which appears
to establish different criteria in granting citizenship
to ethnic Croats as compared to other nationalities in Croatia.
Concern is expressed that many former long-term residents
of Croatia, particularly persons of Serb origin and other
minorities, have been unable to regain residency status
despite their pre-conflict attachment to Croatia.
With respect to the acquisition of citizenship, the Committee
again strongly urges that the State party undertake measures
to ensure that all provisions of the Croatian Law on Citizenship
are in conformity with article 5 of the Convention, and
that the law is implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.
The Committee also recommends that measures be taken to
ensure that former long-term residents of Croatia are able
to reclaim their status as citizens and/ or residents on
a non-discriminatory basis.
15. The Committee is concerned about repeated claims of
discriminatory application of the right to equal treatment
before the law, particularly in the area of property claims,
where the courts reportedly continue to favour persons of
Croat origin. The Committee also notes the large backlog
of cases before the courts, which impedes access to justice.
The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce
its efforts to ensure non-discrimination in the application
of the right to equal treatment before the law, particularly
in the area of repossession of property. The Committee further
recommends that the State party include detailed information
in its next periodic report concerning the measures taken
to reduce the backlog of cases before the courts and improve
access to justice.
16. While noting the efforts of the State party to introduce
training for the police and judges, the Committee is concerned
about the sufficiency of efforts to raise public awareness
about the Convention, promote tolerance and discourage prejudice
against certain minorities.
The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen
its efforts to familiarize the public with the Convention,
in order to reduce the level of prejudice against certain
minorities, and to promote tolerance. In this regard, the
State party should reinforce its efforts to provide instruction
on international human rights standards in all schools and
organize training programmes for persons engaged in the
administration of justice, including judges, lawyers and
law enforcement officials.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party take into
account the relevant parts of the Durban Declaration and
Programme of Action when implementing the Convention in
the domestic legal order, in particular in respect of articles
2 to 7 of the Convention, and that it include in its next
periodic report information on action plans or other measures
they have taken to implement the Durban Declaration and
Programme of Action at national level.
18. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify
the amendments to Article 8, paragraph 6 of the Convention,
adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of
State Parties to the Convention and endorsed by the General
Assembly in its resolution 47/111 of 16 December 1992 (CERD/C/304/
19. The Committee recommends that the State party submit
its sixth periodic report together with the seventh report
due on 8 October 2004, as an updating report responding
to the points raised in the present observations.