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Title:  Croatia Human Rights Practices, 1995 
Author:  U.S. Department of State 
Date:  March 1996 
 
 
 
                               CROATIA 
 
 
The Republic of Croatia is a constitutional parliamentary democracy with 
a powerful presidency.  President Franjo Tudjman, elected in 1992, 
serves as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces.  He 
chairs the influential National Defense and Security Council, and 
appoints the Prime Minister, who leads the Government.  President 
Tudjman's party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), holds the majority 
of seats in both houses of Parliament, and the HDZ has ruled Croatia 
since independence in 1991.  A new Government was named in November 
after multiparty elections were held for the lower house of Parliament.  
Government influence weakens the nominally independent judiciary.  The 
enormous constitutional powers of the presidency, the military 
occupation of large sections of the country, and the overwhelming 
dominance of one political party tend to stifle the expression of 
diverse views. 
 
In March the United Nations protective Force (UNPROFOR) mandate was 
modified to include monitoring of the international borders of Croatia 
and an increased presence of human rights monitors in the U.N. protected 
areas.  The mission was renamed the United Nations Confidence 
Restoration Operation (UNCRO).  In May and August, the Government 
launched military offensives against three rebel Serb-held zones and 
recovered the territory after 4 years of breakaway Serb occupation.   
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that approximately 
180,000  Serb refugees fled into Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia and 
Croatia and Serbia/Montenegro during the two campaigns.  Only the 
Eastern area of Croatia remains outside effective government control, 
although both the Government and local Serb leaders signed an agreement 
in mid-November to bring this area under complete government control 
after a transitional period of 1 to 2 years.  Abuses continued in rebel 
Serb-held areas.  Tens of thousands of expelled Croat and Muslim 
refugees continued to arrive from Serbia and Bosnia. 
 
The Ministry of the Interior oversees the police, while the Ministry of 
Defense oversees the armed forces (HV).   Civil police have no authority 
over military police or over uniformed military personnel.  The national 
police have primary responsibility for internal security, but in times 
of disorder, for example, during and after the May and August 
offensives, the Government may call on the army to provide security.  
Both the police and army are responsible for external security.  
Civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the 
professional security forces.  However, official personnel from each 
service were responsible for significant abuses committed in the 
reclaimed territories.  In Serb-controlled areas, well-armed police and 
military forces continued their pattern of human rights abuses against 
both non-Serbs and Serbs. 
 
Croatia's economy is slowly changing to a market-based free enterprise 
system.  Industry is largely state owned.   
 
Agriculture is mostly in private hands.   Family-owned small enterprises 
are multiplying.   The stabilization program kept inflation low 
throughout the year.  The continued occupation of the eastern area by 
rebel Serbs, the massive refugee problem, and the two military 
offensives all limited economic recovery.  The slow transition and the 
war economy contributed to polarizing economic disparities. 
 
There were serious human rights problems during the year, the most 
flagrant violations being committed during and after the May and August 
military operations.   Although the Government generally respected the 
human rights of ethnic Croats, its human rights record worsened with 
respect to minority groups, especially ethnic Serbs.  The bulk of 
violent abuses occurred in the reclaimed regions, after the military and 
police operations.  The Government failed to establish adequate civil 
authority to control vengeful renegade arsonists,  looters, and 
murderers who still operated with impunity in the reclaimed areas months 
after the offensives had ended.  The Government sought to legalize and 
institutionalize the population changes resulting from these offensives, 
rather than welcome back Serb refugees.  After the military actions, it 
appeared less than genuinely interested in devising measures to restore 
confidence in the Serbian community, or even in maintaining an ethnic 
Serb presence in Croatia.  The security forces committed, cooperated in, 
or ignored many of the abuses in the reclaimed areas.  The Government 
did not effectively seek out or punish those involved, except in a few 
token cases.  The Government temporarily suspended key provisions of the 
National Minorities law in September and still has not established the 
provisional human rights court, as mandated by the 1992 Constitution.  
Specific abuses committed included ethnic-based killings, arbitrary 
detention and torture, restrictions of movement and repatriation, mass 
destruction and confiscation of property, denial of fair and expeditious 
trials, and infringements on freedom of speech and the press.  Societal 
discrimination against women and ethnic minorities and violence against 
women are problems. 
 
Rebel Serb authorities committed human rights abuses in the areas they 
controlled.  The police and military forces continued to use violence, 
murder, intimidation, and displacement against Croats and minorities to 
settle incoming Serb refugees and achieve their goal of ethnic cleansing 
in the areas they controlled.  In May, provoked by the Government attack 
on Western Slavonia, the self-proclaimed "Republic of Serbian Krajina 
(RSK)" President Martic ordered the bombing of Croatian civilian 
centers, including Zagreb.  At least six civilians died in these 
incidents.  Residents of the "RSK" were subject to a controlled, quasi-
legal system that operated without freedom of expression, assembly, 
press, religion, or movement and which denied citizens the right to 
change their government. 
 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
     a.  Political and other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
UNCRO officials registered 300 to 500 reports of killings in reclaimed 
parts of Croatia.  Most killings were ethnically motivated and occurred 
long after the military offensives were over.  Only in the most public 
cases were effective government investigations carried out and 
perpetrators punished, mostly as a result of pressure from international 
authorities and human rights groups.  Among those implicated in the 
killings were civilians, civil police, and active duty military 
personnel, especially members of the nonprofessional "home guard" 
brigades. 
 
There were numerous and brutal killings.  For example, in late August, 
seven elderly civilians were shot, slaughtered, and burned in the 
village of Grubori.  The oldest victim was 90 years old.  Witnesses saw 
uniformed special police and HV at the scene.  At first, government 
officials claimed that the civilians were caught in a clash between HV 
and enemy troops.  Months later a few Croats were arrested for the 
murder of these civilians and were still under investigation at year's 
end.  On September 28, in the village of Varivode, UNCRO monitors found 
the bodies of nine elderly Serbs who had been shot to death.  Thirteen 
individuals were arrested for these killings.  At the end of the year, 
the Government claimed that it had investigated 26 murders and resolved 
15 cases, charging a total of 20 individuals, including 3 soldiers and 1 
policeman. 
 
Serbs in the occupied areas also committed ethnically motivated killings 
within the sectors and along the confrontation line, with a 
disproportionate number of non-Serb victims.  For example,  in June 
three Croat garbage collectors were kidnapped by East Slavonian Serbs 
during a regular run to the Osijek city dump inside the separation zone.  
Two individuals were released, but Serb authorities in Erdut eventually 
claimed that the third, Franjo Ivos, was killed.  No suspects were ever 
apprehended, and local authorities insist that the body was lost.  In 
October Serb snipers from this sector killed two Croats in Belisce.  
Rebel Serbs also targeted U.N. personnel.  A Kenyan UNCRO soldier was 
shot dead in July in sector south.  In January in sector east, one 
Russian battalion soldier and three local Serbs were shot under unclear 
circumstances, possibly involving black market activity.  In September 
four Danish U.N. soldiers were killed near Dvor as Bosnian Serbs 
deliberately targeted a U.N. observation post across the Una river in 
Croatia.  HV units had attempted to cross the river, and fire was 
exchanged between the two sides.  UNCRO officials claim that the 
position of a tank's gun indicated that it had targeted U.N., and not 
HV, positions. 
 
No progress was made on the excavation of mass grave sites in occupied 
areas until Croatian forces obtained control of the territory.  
Government sources claim to have located over 250 mass graves in the 
former Serb-occupied territories, and the Government began uncovering 
some of the sites.  After many of the bodies were identified, they were 
released into the custody of family members.  Based on eyewitness 
reports, the Government charged individual rebel Serbs with murder, some 
of whom were tried in absentia. 
 
     b.  Disappearance 
 
Few new cases of disappearances were reported.  At year's end, the 
Government reported more than 2,800 cases of missing persons still 
unresolved from the 1991-92 war.  Some progress was made in removing 
names from the list of those missing as a result of prisoner and body 
exchanges and of identification of corpses exhumed in the reclaimed 
areas.  An unknown number of cases of missing Serbs remained open at the 
end of the year as a result of the two government offensives.  The 
Government made no public effort to investigate these cases. 
 
     c.  Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution prohibits torture or cruel or degrading punishment, but 
government forces continued to commit such abuses in some instances.  
Security forces at certain prisons beat and mistreated prisoners during 
detention and interrogation.  After both offensives, foreign observers 
saw the wounds of rebel Serb detainees who complained of such treatment 
at detention centers, in Varazdin in May, for example, as well as at 
other sites.  However, such cases were not routine, and there was no 
evidence of systematic torture in Croatian jails.  Most Serb detainees 
interviewed by international monitors reported good treatment.  There 
were no reports of abuses or mistreatment of common criminals arrested 
and detained in Croatian jails. 
 
Except for the short-term detention facilities used to house civilians 
rounded up after the military actions, detention facilities generally 
meet minimum international standards of cleanliness, nutrition, and 
amenities.  Jails are crowded, but not to excess, and family visits and 
access to counsel are available.  Detained rebel Serbs arrested for 
armed rebellion were mainly held in military prisons, as with most 
security prisoners.  After the August offensive, the Government 
increasingly restricted access to these Serb prisoners by UNCRO and 
other international observers until late in the year. 
 
There were credible reports of torture and other abuse in Serb-
controlled areas.  Harsh treatment of non-Serbs was commonplace, and 
Serbian authorities did not punish abusers.  In March a British citizen 
of Croatian descent was detained for a month in Knin and tortured with 
electric implements.  Two of the three Ojisek garbage collectors 
kidnapped by East Slavonian Serbs (see Section 1.a.) complained that 
they were tortured and otherwise mistreated during their detention.  
Local police and paramilitary forces reportedly beat and robbed 
detainees, as well as subjected them to psychological torture, such as 
death threats.  Prison conditions in the Serb-controlled areas were 
reliably reported to be abysmal. 
 
     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution contains provisions to protect the legal rights of all 
accused, but the Government does not always respect these rights in 
practice.  The Government frequently abuses pretrial and investigative 
detention.  The most prominent case of arbitrary arrest occurred in late 
October when 15 persons, mostly prominent ethnic Serbs, were detained 
for espionage.  The court eventually charged the suspects after holding 
them in detention for 3 months.  Army special forces troops arbitrarily 
arrested several dozen rebel Bosnian Muslim refugees in the Kupljensko 
camp at the end of the year and forcibly repatriated them to Bosnia.  
Refugee organizations continued to report similar instances in which 
Muslim refugees were detained and threatened with forcible expulsion. 
 
Government police and military forces rounded up the remaining civilian 
populations of the formerly occupied areas immediately after both 
offensives.  The elderly, women, and children were confined in 
collection centers outside the war zone, some for several weeks.  
Government officials explained that this measure was taken for 
detainees' own safety, until their "identification" was verified, and 
their homes were demined.  Many homes were looted during their absence.  
Draft age men were taken to separate centers and held even longer until 
a determination was made whether to investigate them either for war 
crimes or for armed rebellion.  Over 1,500 men were detained after the 
attack on Western Slavonia, about 200 of whom were investigated at 
length.  The Government extended the amnesty for armed rebellion to 
cover the period from August 17, 1990, to May 10, 1995.   
 
Police normally seek arrest warrants by presenting evidence of probable 
cause to an interrogating magistrate.  Police may carry out arrests 
without a warrant if they believe the suspect might flee, destroy 
evidence, or commit other crimes.  Such cases are not uncommon.   The 
police then have 24 hours in which to justify their decision before the 
local interrogating magistrate. 
 
After arrest, the law states that persons must be given access to an 
attorney of their choice within 24 hours; if they have no attorney, and 
are charged with a crime for which the sentence is over 10 years' 
imprisonment, the interrogating magistrate will appoint counsel from a 
list of public defenders.  If the sentence is under 10 years, detainees 
can request court-appointed counsel if they so choose.  The court will 
appoint counsel after charges are levied for the trial.  The 
interrogating judge must, within 3 days of the arrest, decide whether 
sufficient cause exists to hold the person in custody pending further 
investigation.  The judge must justify the decision in writing, 
including the length of detention ordered.  These decisions may be 
appealed, either immediately or later in the detention period.  The 
usual period of investigative detention varies from a few days to a few 
weeks but by law may be as long as 2 years.  Those persons held under 
investigative detention are often denied certain rights, such as visits, 
until they are officially charged.  Accused persons have the right to 
have their attorney present whenever they wish during the investigation 
as well as during any appeal of investigative detention. 
 
In practice, detainees are almost always bound over for investigation 
unless it is clear that no case exists against them.  Once the 
investigation is complete, detainees are usually released on their own 
recognizance pending trial, unless the crime is a major offense, the 
accused are considered public dangers, or the court believes they may 
flee.  There are provisions for posting bail after charges are brought, 
but the practice is not common.  Police will sometimes retain the 
passports of those released pending trial to prevent them from leaving 
the country. 
 
By law, rebel Serbs detained after the two offensives could be held 
under investigative detention, pending charges, for 6 months.  In many 
cases, "RSK" Serbs arrested for armed rebellion did not have adequate 
access to legal counsel, nor were they informed in a timely manner by 
the courts of their rights.  Few were assigned a public defender until 
months after their arrest; some saw counsel only once or twice, usually 
only during a court hearing.  Although they had been in investigative 
detention for 6 months, many such Serbs were tried and convicted in 2 
days in November and December, having spoken to their lawyers only once.  
On December 30, the Government amnestied and released an additional 455 
rebel Serbs arrested in August.  
 
In rebel Serb-controlled areas, virtually no safeguards existed against 
arbitrary detention, and Serb forces continued to use detention as an 
intimidation tactic.  They commonly arrested civilians in the 
"separation zone."  The incident involving the Osijek garbage collectors 
was the most highly publicized.  In January a French journalist was 
arrested for illegally crossing into "RSK" territory and was sentenced 
by a military court to 2 1/2 years in prison, although he has since been 
released.  In November two Americans were detained for 3 days by Vukovar 
local authorities for taking pictures.  In November and December, sector 
east authorities arrested a man from Hungary and a Croat from Osijek, 
each of whom had "trespassed" onto Serb territory.  Until August 
residents of the "Bihac pocket" in western Bosnia-Herzegovina were 
sometimes arbitrarily detained while transiting Serb-held territory. 
 
The Constitution prohibits the exile of Croatian citizens.  Serbs 
captured during the offensives who did not originate from Croatian 
territory were subject to deportation after they served their sentences 
for war crimes. 
 
     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
Government influence weakens the nominally independent judiciary.  For 
example, during regularly-held judicial elections in 1994, a dispute 
arose which raised concerns about the extent of political control over 
the judiciary.  In February the High Judicial Council, which is 
controlled by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of 
Administration, elected new judges for the Supreme Court.  However, the 
Constitutional Court ordered that the nominating procedure be redone, 
claiming that the Council had not appointed qualified personnel.  Chief 
Supreme Court Justice Milan Vukovic lost his appointment.  Minister of 
Justice Ivica Crnic disputed the election procedures and resigned in 
March, saying that he did not wish to be involved in an undemocratic and 
totalitarian procedure. 
 
The Croatian judicial system consists of municipal and district courts, 
a Constitutional Court, a Supreme Court, an Administrative Court and a 
High Judicial Council.  The High Judicial Council (with a president and 
14 members from all parts of the legal community) appoints judges and 
public prosecutors.  The upper house of Parliament nominates persons for 
membership on the High Judicial Council, and the lower house elects 
members to 8-year terms.  The eleven judges of the Constitutional Court 
are elected to 8-year terms in the same manner. 
 
In September the Government repealed certain provisions of the 1992 
Constitutional Law on Minorities, which included the establishment of a 
Provisional Court of Human Rights, a court which had never been 
established (see Section 3).  Emergency measures established in 1991 are 
still being applied.  These orders provide for the suspension of certain 
legal remedies in legal proceedings and give the six-court military 
legal system jurisdiction over a large number of cases involving 
civilians. 
 
Although the Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial and a 
variety of due process rights in both civilian and military courts, in 
practice the prosecuting attorney has leeway in deciding whether to 
bring a case against an individual, and, in cases considered 
"political," both the indictment and the conduct of trials are sometimes 
subject to outside influence. 
 
Nor is the judicial process free of ethnic bias.  The investigative 
detention of rebel Serbs was often based on circumstantial evidence and 
uncertain testimony.  Court authorities, including the detainees' own 
court-appointed defense counsel, often displayed a strong bias against 
them.  A majority of judges took month-long vacations in mid-August, 
further postponing investigative hearings.  Large numbers of detainees 
never received legal counsel.  International trial observers claimed 
that witnesses often recanted or changed their stories, presumably due 
to intimidation on behalf of the accused. 
 
The legal system in the Serb-controlled regions remained a sham, with 
its procedures and practices totally subject to interference by those in 
power.  Specific information is hard to come by, as these proceedings 
are closed to monitoring by the UN and other international observers. 
 
The estimated number of political prisoners, including Serbs who 
remained in detention, was over 500. 
 
     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution declares the home inviolable.  Only a court may issue a 
search warrant, stating the justification for the search of a home or 
other premises.  Police may enter a home without a warrant or the 
owner's consent only if necessary to enforce an arrest warrant, 
apprehend a suspect, or prevent serious danger to life or important 
property.   In practice, the authorities often failed to adhere to these 
constitutional requirements. 
 
International observers witnessed the mass looting, destruction, and 
burning of property in the reclaimed territories by both official 
military and civilian personnel and by unhindered civilians allowed to 
roam the area.  Within days of the start of the May and August 
offensives, the first cases of house burnings were reported.  Over one-
third of the buildings in the former sectors north and south were burned 
within 2 months of the August offensive.  Another third was heavily 
damaged and uninhabitable.  The village of Donji Lapac and many others 
with a predominant Serb population were burned to the ground.  From 
early August until the end of the year, international human rights 
monitors reported daily incidents of looting, burning, and threats made 
to the remaining local population.  Monitors continually reported the 
names and automobile license numbers of perpetrators to government 
authorities.   Most people detained for looting and arson were released 
after questioning pending further investigation.  Security personnel and 
military commanders generally did nothing to stop this destruction, and 
local and international observers often witnessed security forces 
starting the fires or standing by as they burned.  Official 
investigations and prosecutions for these acts began only after intense 
international and media pressure on the Government and were viewed as 
neither serious nor complete.  At years end, the Government reported to 
the U.N. that it had registered 2,878 cases of arson and brought charges 
against 11 persons.  It had identified 1,054 cases of looting, of which 
770 had been "clarified," and had charged 1,260 individuals.  The 
Government provided no supporting documentation for these claims. 
 
In August an official decree placed under government administration the 
abandoned property of citizens who had fled the country for Serbia or 
other Serb-controlled areas since the 1991 war.  The Government claimed 
that this act was necessary to give Croat refugees decent shelter and to 
protect the properties from looting and destruction.  The decree was 
viewed internationally as a thinly veiled attempt to prevent the return 
of Croatian Serbs to their homes.  However, it was immediately passed 
into law by the HDZ-controlled legislature.  Owners were allowed a 90-
day filing period to reclaim their property, but the new law's complex 
procedures required a claimant to produce citizenship documents which 
could not be obtained outside Croatia,  and to file a claim in Croatia.  
Both requirements were practical impediments to Croatian Serbs' efforts 
to reclaim their property.  The time limit for filing a claim was 
subsequently lifted in January 1996.  Although the Government eventually 
set up processing centers in Belgrade and other nearby capitals, the 
procedure remained slow. 
 
Military and civil police continued to carry out forced evictions, 
involving hundreds of families of all nationalities.  In other cases, 
Croatian refugees, often with the appearance of official countenance, 
forcibly entered the homes of ethnic Serbs and other minorities who had 
lived for years in family apartments, but who were themselves not listed 
as the official tenant.  Although such evictions were often declared 
illegal in court, authorities forbade the police to remove the intruders 
on the basis of a law which requires that a new home be found for a 
displaced or refugee family before it can be removed from any form of 
housing, whether it was legally occupying the housing or not. 
 
Forced evictions of ethnic Serbs, Croats, and others from former 
Yugoslav National Army (JNA) apartments continued.  The Ministry of 
Defense arbitrarily revoked the tenant rights of individuals who had 
lived in the apartments for decades.  Referring to property laws which 
remove tenancy rights as a result of any 6-month absence, or if the 
tenant was ruled to have acted against the interests of the Republic of 
Croatia, the Ministry granted soldiers tenancy of these occupied flats.  
The soldiers frequently took residences by force of arms, either 
evicting the current tenants or forcing them to share the quarters.  In 
November the Government passed a law allowing former JNA apartments to 
be privatized.  Unlike other privatizations, legal tenants had 
restricted rights to purchase their apartments, and the right to 
purchase was not guaranteed.  Family members of the registered tenant 
were not allowed purchase rights, nor were individuals suspected of 
armed rebellion or war crimes.  Human rights groups plan to sue the 
Government concerning the constitutionality of this law. 
 
The Constitution provides for the secrecy and safety of personal data, 
but it was unclear if such guarantees were observed in practice. 
 
Leaders in the Serb-held regions showed no compunction about interfering 
with the rights of the inhabitants of those areas, particularly non-
Serbs.  UNCRO continued to provide 24-hour patrols of several minority 
villages to protect the inhabitants from armed bands.  The practice of 
forcibly moving Serbian refugees or soldiers into the homes of non-Serb 
residents continued as well. 
 
     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
In the early morning hours of May 1, special police units and government 
troops initiated "Operation Flash," an attack to liberate occupied 
Western Slavonia.  Announced as a "limited police action" to gain 
control of the Zagreb-Lipovac highway, government forces gained 
effective control of most of the area within 1 day, and a cease-fire was 
reached on the afternoon of May 3.  HV troops restricted the movement of 
UNCRO forces and surrounded most U.N. bases, including a Jordanian base 
along the highway and a Nepalese base at Pustara.  Although tensions had 
been building for many weeks, the direct pretext for the attack was the 
murder of three Croats, who were shot on the highway by a sniper from 
behind Serb lines. 
 
Rebel Serb forces reacted by shelling several cities, including Zagreb, 
Dubrovnik, Karlovac, Kutina, Nova Gradiska, Novska, Pakrac, Osijek, 
Sisak, and Zupanja.  Zagreb was shelled on two separate occasions with 
Orkan anti-personnel cluster bombs.  Among the sites hit were a 
children's hospital and the national theater.  The shelling resulted in 
6 dead and more than 130 wounded.  "RSK" president Milan Martic publicly 
announced that he had personally issued the order for the capital to be 
shelled.  Days later, he threatened again to "flatten the city" and kill 
"100,000 people." In October Martic was indicted with two other "RSK 
officials" by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former 
Yugoslavia (ICTY) for this incident. 
 
Over 7,000 Serb refugees fled in front of advancing HV troops over the 
only bridge across the Sava river to Serb-held Bosnian territory.  
Government forces left this road open to allow the inhabitants to 
evacuate.  A pocket of Serbs unable to leave the northern part of the 
sector was surrounded by HV forces and surrendered. 
 
On August 4, government forces launched the larger scale "Operation 
Storm on the former sectors north and south, and gained effective 
control of the area within 5 days.  The attack began with the shelling 
of the Serb stronghold of Knin, a civilian target.  Rebel Serb forces 
organized a weak counteroffensive and quickly prepared an evacuation of 
both military and civilian personnel from the area.  Bosnian Serbs 
shelled several cities in government-controlled Croatia although Zagreb 
was not hit. 
 
Although reportedly ordered to stay away from civilian targets, 
government forces were responsible for the indiscriminate deaths of many 
civilians and U.N. personnel during both actions.  The Government later 
claimed that 188 Serbs had been killed during the May action, of which 
54 deaths were civilian.  After the August attack, the Government 
announced that 116 Serbs and 42 Croat civilians had been killed, as well 
as 402 "RSK" soldiers and 211 HV troops.  UNCRO estimates of these 
figures are higher.  During "Operation Flash," the U.N.  reported 30 
civilian corpses near the village of Novi Varos.  Eyewitnesses reported 
soldiers shooting at fleeing refugees. 
 
On August 8 near Dvor, Croatian air force planes fired on a Serb refugee 
column fleeing into Bosnia.  The Government claimed that the Serbs were 
moving tanks and other heavy equipment in the same column.  One woman 
died from wounds she received when a refugee column was stoned on August 
9 by onlookers in Sisak.  That same day, a British journalist was killed 
and two other persons were wounded near Vrginmost, mistakenly targeted 
as Serbs by HV forces. 
 
Bosnian government army (ABH) forces entered Croatia during the August 
offensive with Croatian government consent.  While escorting a refugee 
column in August, UNCRO personnel witnessed the deliberate shooting of 9 
to 11 mentally and physically handicapped Serb refugees by irregular 
units of the ABH.  ABH forces also shelled a Serb refugee column in 
Donji Zirovac on August 8. 
 
During the offensives, the U.N. suffered casualties from both sides.  HV 
forces threatened and captured U.N. observation posts, holding some 
personnel hostage for several hours.  These forces looted many abandoned 
U.N. compounds.  When HV troops entered Knin in August, they prevented 
anyone from leaving the U.N. compound to monitor the fighting.  A Danish 
UNCRO soldier was used by rebel Serbs as a human shield and was killed 
by HV fire.  The officer responsible for the order to shoot was arrested 
and a murder charge is pending against him.  HV forces threw a grenade 
into a Jordanian battalion bunker, resulting in 4 to 6 deaths (also see 
Section 1.a.). 
 
Both police and military forces were responsible for looting and the 
destruction of property, including the mining and burning of houses.  
This destruction continued many months after the completion of the 
action and was later committed by roving civilians as well (see Section 
1.f.) 
 
Elsewhere, isolated ceasefire violations caused at least three 
fatalities.  Occasional shelling occurred throughout the year from 
Bosnian Serb positions bordering Croatia, most commonly targeting 
Zupanja, Osijek, and the Dubrovnik area.  Dubrovnik airport was shelled 
in April, May, August, and October.  Three young adults were killed in a 
suburb of Dubrovnik from indiscriminate shelling in October.  These 
attacks also caused substantial property damage. 
 
Several deaths occurred throughout the year from mines.  The wide extent 
of mine-laying during the conflict was increasingly evident after HV 
forces gained control of the three sectors.  Soldiers and civilians from 
both sides, as well as UNCRO personnel, were victims of unmarked and 
uncleared minefields.  Expulsions of Croats, Hungarians, Slovaks, 
Czechs, and other non-Serbs continued in Serb-occupied areas throughout 
the year, with the number of incidents increasing in the remaining Serb-
held territories after each of the two government attacks.  Condoned by 
local RSK officials, these expulsions served the goal of ethnic 
cleansing by ridding the region of minorities. 
 
 
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of thought and expression, 
specifically including freedom of the press and other media of 
communication, speech, and public expression, and free establishment of 
institutions of public communication.  In practice, government influence 
on the media through state ownership of most print and broadcast outlets 
limits these freedoms.  In addition, government intimidation induces 
self-censorship.  Journalists are sometimes reluctant to criticize the 
Government in public forums for fear of harassment, job loss, 
intimidation, or being labeled as disloyal to Croatia. 
 
The national television broadcasting and radio broadcasting system (HRT) 
is government controlled.  The Government also   retains a controlling 
interest in two of four news dailies and some weekly newspapers.  
Although these state-controlled or heavily state-influenced media 
frequently carry reportage critical of the Government, they maintain an 
overall editorial slant favorable to the Government and the governing 
party, the HDZ.  Both the broadcast and print media also often exclude 
news reports that put Croatia or its government in an unfavorable light.  
HRT has several times not broadcast statements by foreign diplomats made 
in highly public forums on the need to observe human and minority 
rights.   Each of the opposition parties is allocated 4 minutes of 
television time per week.  Access by the parties to the print media is 
minimal, with occasional coverage of press conferences and interviews. 
 
During October's parliamentary elections, 1 hour of free broadcast time 
on national television was made available to each of the registered 
political parties for the pre-election campaign.  Time slots were drawn 
by lot.  Paid advertising on national television was, in theory, 
available, but HRT refused to run advertising spots from one of the 
major opposition parties on the grounds that some (unspecified) 
information in the ad was inaccurate and that the ad did not make clear 
which party was placing it.  The HDZ advertising budget dwarfed that of 
its rivals, and it made heavy use of this budget to buy broadcast time 
on the national, state-controlled television network during the election 
campaign. 
 
A few newspapers continue to guard their independence, including the 
daily Novi List in Rijeka, the weekly Globus, the intellectual bimonthly 
journal Erasmus, and the weekly Arkzin, published by the Antiwar 
Campaign. 
 
Some extremist publications, with a virulently antigovernment slant, can 
be purchased at newsstands, although they have a very small circulation.  
The highly popular and often critical weekly Feral Tribune was subjected 
to a 50 percent turnover tax in 1994, though in March, under pressure 
from the European Union, the tax was lifted by the Constitutional Court. 
 
Government influence over the recently privatized distribution network, 
coupled with stiff value added taxes levied at several points during the 
production process, also has an impact on press freedom.   It is 
claimed, though difficult to prove, that the few companies able to print 
newspapers do not charge the pro-government media for their services; it 
is also widely believed that Tisak, the national distributor for all 
newspapers and magazines, removes independent journals very quickly from 
its newsstands while at the same time charging them a high percentage of 
the cover price for its services.  Certain independent newspapers and 
magazines claim that they must pay out more than 50 percent of their 
gross revenues for taxes and distribution costs alone.  On the other 
hand, the high circulation of some popular independent periodicals, 
Globus being the most visible example, has given them enough financial 
independence to thrive despite these high taxes and high costs. 
 
International papers and journals remained available throughout 
government-controlled areas, including Serbian periodicals which 
subscribers continued to receive by mail. 
 
Croatia has three national television channels and a local television 
station in Zagreb which reaches a quarter of the population.  Zagreb-
based Channels One, Two, and Three are part of HRT, the official 
Croatian Radio and Television Enterprise, headed by a well-known HDZ 
member.  Regional stations operate in Zadar, Split, Vinkovci, and 
Osijek. 
 
In August Parliament announced the first allocations of frequencies for 
regional private radio and television stations under the July 1994 
Broadcast Law.  (No frequencies for nationwide private broadcasters have 
been assigned for either radio or television.)  Two of 4 planned 
frequencies for television and 4 of 20 planned frequencies for radio at 
the county (zupanija) level were assigned.  Nine of 15 planned 
frequencies for municipal-level private television were assigned and 88 
of 111 planned frequencies for municipal radio broadcasters were 
assigned. 
 
The Broadcast Law mandates that one parliamentary member of the Council 
for Croatian Television be an ethnic minority representative, but this 
person has not yet been appointed.  Among the first acts the Government 
undertook after its forces retook the Krajina was to begin broadcasting 
programming from the HRT regional station in Knin. 
 
In Serb-controlled regions, freedom of speech and the press virtually 
did not exist.  With martial law still in effect, there were no 
guarantees of a free press and other freedoms,  and the authorities 
controlled the tone and content of the media.   One television station 
broadcasts from studios in Beli Manastir and Vukovar in the one 
remaining Serb-occupied area at year's end.  A few low-powered local 
radio stations broadcast from Baranja and Eastern Slavonia.  Government 
radio and television broadcasts are received in these areas as well. 
 
Academic freedom is generally respected. 
 
     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides that all citizens have the right to peaceful 
assembly and association for the protection of citizens' interests or 
the promotion of social, economic, political, national, cultural, and 
other convictions and objectives, and the Government respects these 
provisions in practice. 
 
In early December, over 2,000 Croat refugees gathered in Zagreb for the 
largest antigovernment demonstration since independence to protest the 
Dayton peace agreement and the loss of their homes in Bosnian Posavina 
to Bosnian Serbs.  The demonstration was mostly peaceful with a few 
isolated incidents of police harassment of protesters. 
 
In Serb-controlled areas, no antigovernment demonstrations were held 
throughout the year, and individuals who publicly voiced opposition 
views were regularly jailed. 
 
     c.  Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religion and 
free public profession of religious and other convictions, and the 
Government respects these rights in practice.  There is no state 
religion.  All religious communities are free to conduct public services 
and to open and run social and charitable institutions.  Roman 
Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and Islam are the major 
faiths in Croatia, and there is also an active Jewish community.  The 
majority of practicing Croats are Roman Catholic, and the Government 
provides optional Catholic religious education in schools. 
 
There are no formal restrictions on religious groups.  The main mosque 
in Croatia is in Zagreb, where it serves not only as a religious center 
but also as a social aid office for the large Bosnian Muslim refugee 
population.  Croatian Protestants from a number of denominations, as 
well as foreign clergy, actively practice and proselytize, as do 
representatives of eastern-based religions.  Some foreign religious 
organizations seeking to provide social services reported bureaucratic 
obstacles to their establishment in Croatia, but it was unclear if this 
had any connection with their religious character. 
 
The close identification of religion with ethnicity had earlier caused 
religious institutions to be targets of violence.  The Serbian Orthodox 
cathedral in downtown Zagreb is open, and several other Orthodox 
churches and monasteries operate freely in government-controlled 
Croatia.  International human rights monitors said that the few Orthodox 
priests and nuns who remained in Croatia after the 1991 war reported 
generally good relations with their Catholic neighbors.  After the 
military offensives in Western Slavonia and the Krajina region, military 
and police forces guarded most of the Orthodox churches to prevent them 
from being looted or destroyed.  Nonetheless, some were reported to be 
looted or damaged. 
 
Most Catholic churches in the Serb-occupied areas have been destroyed.  
In Eastern Slavonia, only one active Croatian Catholic priest remains.  
A Slovak Catholic priest travels regularly from Serbia to hold masses. 
 
The Government discriminates against Muslims in the issuance of 
citizenship papers.  The Interior Ministry uses Article 26 of the Law on 
Citizenship to deny citizenship papers to persons otherwise qualified to 
be citizens of Croatia (see Section 5). 
 
Most requests for conscientious objector exemption from military service 
were granted.  There is no provision for conscientious objector status 
in the Serb-occupied areas. 
 
     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Constitution generally provides for these rights, with certain 
restrictions.  All persons legally in the country must register their 
residence with the local authorities.  Under exceptional circumstances, 
the Government may legally restrict the right to enter or leave the 
country if necessary to protect the "legal order, health, rights, or 
freedoms of others." 
 
The Government refused to allow the almost 200,000 refugees who fled the 
fighting to return to their homes in the former sectors north, south, 
and west.  Between 10,000 and 15,000 Serbs filed applications to return 
based on humanitarian considerations, but only 400 were approved by mid-
November.  Approval was granted only if the individual had immediate 
family in Croatia who would sponsor his return and could prove legal 
residence in Croatia before independence.  Approved returnees did not 
return to their homes in the former occupied areas, but were housed by 
their family sponsor. 
 
There are restrictions on freedom of movement for all journalists and 
all male citizens age 18 through 55 in the cities and in areas close to 
the confrontation lines.  Journalists, as well as almost all others, 
must request permission to enter the conflict zones. 
 
The Government imposed no significant legal restrictions on the movement 
of refugees, displaced persons, or national minorities resident in 
Croatia.  Many refugees were housed in remote locations with little or 
no means of public transport.  There were several confirmed cases of 
forced return of refugees to Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially from among 
the rebel Muslim refugees from the Bihac canton of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  
The Government tried to enforce strictly a policy of admitting no new 
refugee unless transit to a third country was assured.   However, in 
mid-summer large numbers of Croat and Muslim refugees, forced from Serb-
held northern Bosnia by ethnic cleansing campaigns, entered Croatia via 
a crossing over the Sava river at Davor.  Ethnic Croats were registered 
as refugees, as well as a few Muslims, but most Muslim refugees were 
immediately repatriated to government-controlled areas of western 
Bosnia. 
 
The Government also continued to relocate refugees from coastal tourist 
facilities to inland areas and to recovered territories.  Often this 
policy met resistance from refugee groups who did not want to move to 
buildings with few modern living facilities or to be uprooted and 
separated from the people with whom they had spent the last 4 years. 
 
The forces of Bosnian Muslim rebel leader Fikret Abdic were defeated by 
the Bosnian army in September, and over 20,000 people left the 
municipality of Velika Kladusa in northern Bosnia and entered Croatia.  
The Government refused to provide hardened shelter and the refugees set 
up a make-shift camp in the village of Kupljensko.  Although UNHCR and 
the international community determined them to be legitimate refugees 
from Bosnia, the Government refused to grant them this status and sought 
ways to repatriate them.  Severe weather conditions and the lack of 
proper shelter combined to force many of the refugees to return to 
Bosnia on their own at the end of the year. 
 
The authorities in Serb-controlled areas continued to enforce a coercive 
regime, including curfews and strict travel limitations near the front 
lines.  Threats against the non-Serbs in protected villages effectively 
confined them to their homes.  Serbs who crossed over from government-
controlled Croatia were eagerly welcomed for propaganda purposes. 
 
 
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to Change 
their Government 
 
Croatia is a multiparty democracy in which all citizens 18 years of age 
and older have the right to vote by secret ballot.  The President, 
elected for 5 years, exercises substantial power, authority, and 
influence but is constitutionally limited to two terms.  Parliament is 
comprised of the House of Representatives and the House of Zupanije or 
Counties, and the Croatian democratic union (HDZ) holds a majority in 
both houses.  Its leader, President Franjo Tudjman, was reelected in 
1992. 
 
In elections for the House of Representatives, held in October, the HDZ 
again won a majority of the seats, and 11 other parties also won seats.  
International observers faulted the election campaign on a number of 
points: the electoral law was hastily presented to Parliament and passed 
after only a few hours of debate; a special franchise for Croats living 
permanently outside the country was created to include almost 10 percent 
of the seats in Parliament; ethnic Serb representation--based on 
percentage of population--was dropped from 13 seats to 3 without a 
census; changes in constituency boundaries appeared to be arbitrary and 
non-transparent; the state-run media restricted criticism of government 
policies and activities; and the election administration was flawed 
(voter lists were often inaccurate and outdated).  The franchise for the 
diaspora included ethnic Croats born and resident in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
but excluded ethnic Serbs born in Croatia, who were living as refugees 
in Serb-controlled areas.  Rules for access to the state-owned media 
restricted the ability of opposition parties to criticize government 
policies and activities. 
 
During the election, established polling procedures were generally 
observed.  Poll workers and officials demonstrated a genuine commitment 
to conducting their work freely and fairly and usually welcomed the 
presence of foreign observers.  There were, however,  inconsistencies 
among polling places, most of which probably resulted from a lack of 
training for election officials.  Problems during voting appear to have 
curtailed the rights of some minority voters.  For example, there were 
reports that some Serbs were not allowed to vote for the state-wide 
party list if they exercised their right to vote on the special list for 
ethnic Serb candidates as allowed under the law.  Cases of passive 
intimidation of Serb voters were also reported by election observers.  
Representatives of most minority groups (including Serbs) complained 
that voters had been left off the rolls or had been misclassified as 
Croats, an error which applied to an estimated 10 percent of minority 
voters in some areas, according to a number of election observers. 
 
In September the Government temporarily rescinded Articles 21 and 22 
(and all other relevant articles) of the 1992 Constitutional Law on 
Human Rights and Freedoms.  These laws had established self-governing 
special status districts in areas where minorities made up more than 50 
percent of the population, namely, municipalities in the Knin and Glina 
regions.  The provisions remain suspended indefinitely, and at a minimum 
until the results of an April 1996 census are known.  This repeal of the 
special districts law, officially justified by the change in the 
demographics of the territory, as well as the law confiscating abandoned 
property, and the refusal to allow the mass return of Serb refugees, 
contributed to charges that the Government sought to legalize and 
institutionalize the population changes after the offensives to create a 
homogeneous country with no significant minorities. 
 
Although there are no legal restrictions on participation by women or 
minorities in the political process, they are represented in only small 
numbers in Parliament, the executive branch, and courts.  Fifteen women 
hold seats in the 206-member Parliament; one is the President of the 
House of Counties.  Election law requires representation for minorities 
in Parliament, with proportional representation for any minority that 
makes up more than 8 percent of the population.  Parliament's October 
reduction in the number of Serbian representatives was based on 
estimates of the number of Serbs who fled Croatia and the assumption 
that they would not return, disregarding the fact that they remained 
Croatian citizens.  Two of the three remaining seats were won by the 
Serbian People's Party and one seat went to the Social Democratic Action 
Party. 
 
The "RSK" held elections in December 1993 which no international body 
recognized as either legitimate or fair.  The "presidential" candidate 
sponsored by Belgrade, Milan Martic, "won" only after official 
manipulation of the vote.  After the fall of the "RSK," the long-serving 
leaders of Eastern Slavonia appointed themselves as the "regional 
governing council" and "politically" reorganized themselves as a 
"district," no longer a "republic." No minorities were represented in 
either the "parliament" or the "government" of the "RSK," nor are any on 
the council. 
 
 
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Human rights groups in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, and Osijek worked to 
prevent human rights abuses in their respective localities and brought 
their concerns to the attention of local and national authorities as 
well as domestic and international media.  Most of these groups focused 
on legal advocacy programs and social services support for the remaining 
populations in the recovered territories.  A coalition of groups was 
created in May to support and monitor the human rights situation in 
Western Slavonia.  Elements of this coalition were later extended to 
Knin.  Human rights groups remained highly critical of the Government's 
human rights record. 
 
Major local human rights groups include the Croatian Helsinki 
Commission, the Antiwar Campaign, the Dalmatian Solidarity Committee, 
the Dalmatian Committee for Human Rights, and the Center for Peace and 
Human Rights.  The Serbian Peoples' Party and the Social Democratic 
Union have human rights committees.  The Serbian Democratic Forum, 
another local human rights group, focused primarily on the concerns of 
the Serbian community.  All of these groups have publicly criticized the 
Government's human rights policy.  International human rights 
organizations are also active in Croatia. 
 
The Government cooperated with international investigations of war 
crimes carried out by the U.N. Commission of Experts, permitting free 
access to refugees for gathering eyewitness testimony, even in cases in 
which Croats were the likely perpetrators of the witnessed atrocities.  
The Government pledged its cooperation with the International Tribunal 
for the Prosecution of War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.  
However, in November President Tudjman named the commander of Bosnian 
Croat forces, Major General Tihomir Blaskic, to a new post in the 
Inspector General Directorate of the HV, a day after Blaskic had been 
indicted by the tribunal.  This appointment raised questions about the 
Government's pledge. 
 
Serbian forces did not permit the formation or functioning of local 
human rights groups and impeded the work of international human rights 
groups.  An organization called the Danube Peace Bridge, based in 
southern Hungary, was active in Eastern Slavonia, supported by activists 
from both Croatia and Serbia.  However, local "officials" prevented 
Croatian human rights monitors from government-controlled Croatia from 
entering the region.  Only U.N. personnel and the European Union 
Monitoring Mission have limited freedom to observe human rights 
practices in these areas. 
 
 
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution specifies that all citizens shall enjoy all rights and 
freedoms, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, political 
or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, education, 
social status, or other attributes.  It adds that members of all nations 
and minorities shall have equal rights in Croatia.  With the exceptions 
noted below, these rights are observed in practice.  One article 
provides for special "wartime measures" but states that restrictions 
shall be appropriate to the nature of the danger and may not result in 
the inequality of citizenship with respect to race, color, sex, 
language, religion, or national or social origin.  Under these measures, 
these rights have been observed in practice. 
 
     Women 
 
Although the Government does not collect statistics, informed observers 
state that violence against women, including spousal abuse, is common 
and that the number of incidents has increased in the last few years.  
Alcohol abuse is commonly cited as a contributing factor.  Centers for 
the psychological and medical care of abused women are open in several 
cities, and there is a 24-hour hot line in a Zagreb medical center.  A 
number of local institutions and voluntary agencies offer social, 
medical, and other assistance to abused women and to those traumatized 
by war experiences.  Family crisis associations are also active. 
 
The law does not discriminate by gender.  In practice, however, women 
generally hold lower paying positions in the work force.  Although no 
statistics are available, the majority of high school and elementary 
teachers, nurses, and clerical workers are believed to be female.  
Although the number of female-led organizations has increased since the 
war, most are devoted to antiwar or humanitarian causes and are poorly 
organized and poorly funded.  There is no national organization of women 
devoted to the protection of women's rights. 
 
     Children 
 
The Government strongly committed to the welfare of children.  Education 
is compulsory up to age 14.  Schools provide free meals for children, 
day nurseries are available in most communities even for infants, and 
medical care for children is free. 
 
There is no documented pattern of societal abuse or discrimination 
against children. 
 
     People with Disabilities 
 
There is no specific legislation mandating access to buildings or 
government services for people with disabilities; access to such 
facilities is often difficult.   The Government began a new program to 
provide several disabled war veterans with publicly financed homes 
designed especially to accommodate their particular disability.  People 
with disabilities face no discriminatory measures, and education and job 
opportunities generally are available. 
 
     Religious Minorities 
 
The Muslim community in Croatia suffered from discrimination, and 
Croatian Muslims and Bosnian refugees continue to report widespread 
discrimination in many areas such as citizenship (see Section 2.c.) and 
employment rights.  The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights noted 
that Muslims (along with Serbs) "are always the first to be dismissed" 
from jobs (see Section 5). 
 
     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Constitutionally, Croatian Serbs and other minority groups enjoy the 
same protection as other self-identified ethnic and religious groups in 
the country.  In practice, however, there continues to be ever-present, 
subtle, and sometimes open discrimination against Orthodox Serbs in such 
areas as the administration of justice, employment, housing, and the 
free exercise of cultural rights.  Serbs continue to be particularly 
vulnerable to attack because of the Government's reluctance rigorously 
to protect their rights.  Attacks against property owned by Serbs, or 
even Croats with Serb-sounding names, continued, although at a lesser 
rate than in previous years.  Serbs in Croatia also continued to receive 
anonymous threats by mail, telephone, and facsimile, but in fewer 
numbers than in previous years.  Many Serbs left government-controlled 
Croatia during the year as a result of the combination of economic 
discrimination and physical threats and the lack of interest shown by 
the Government in devising measures to restore confidence among Serbs 
remaining in the formerly occupied areas. 
 
The makeup of the police force, which consists almost exclusively of 
ethnic Croats--some with little experience or training in police work--
contributed to the problem.  As in previous years, the vast majority of 
cases of societal violence against Serbs went unpunished.  The 
Government's practice of discriminating against ethnic and religious 
minorities, particularly Serbs and Muslims, in the issuance of 
citizenship papers, drew harsh criticism.  Human rights groups report 
numerous documented cases in which the Interior Ministry denied 
citizenship papers to long-term residents of Croatia (that is, resident 
in Croatia long before the country declared its independence).  Human 
rights groups complain that the Interior Ministry almost always based 
its denials on Article 26 of the Law on Citizenship, which permits it to 
deny citizenship papers to persons otherwise qualified to be citizens of 
Croatia for reasons of national interest.  The law does not require the 
reasons to be explained, and human rights organizations reported that 
the police continued to refuse citizenship applications without full 
explanation. 
 
The law on citizenship distinguishes between those with a claim to 
Croatian ethnicity and those without.  The "Croatian people" are 
eligible to become citizens of Croatia even if they did not have 
previous citizenship of the former Socialist Republic of Croatia, as 
long as they submit a written statement that they consider themselves 
Croatian citizens.  Others must satisfy more stringent requirements 
through naturalization in order to obtain citizenship, even if they were 
previously lawful residents of Croatia as citizens of the former 
Yugoslavia.  While an application for citizenship is pending, the 
applicant is considered an alien and is denied rights such as social 
allowances, including medical care, pensions, free education, and 
employment in the civil service. 
 
Serbs and other ethnic minorities also suffered from economic 
discrimination.  The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights previously 
noted in his report that "it appears that Serbs and Muslims are always 
the first to be dismissed."  While the difficult economic situation 
continued to cause high unemployment for all sectors of society, the 
Special Rapporteur's concern was amplified by a large number of credible 
reports that Serbs bore a disproportionate burden in layoffs by a broad 
variety of employers.  Throughout the year, human rights organizations 
continued to receive inquiries from Serbs who had been fired from their 
jobs as far back as 1992.  While in many cases it was impossible to 
determine the proximate cause for the firing of an employee, there were 
cases where the employee's ethnicity was the stated reason.  In one 
case, the only doctor to remain in the Knin hospital following 
"Operation Storm" was dismissed.  In some cases, despite court orders 
which confirmed the employee's right to employment or reinstatement to a 
previous position, the employer still refused to rehire workers who had 
been out of work since 1992. 
 
Roma continued to face societal discrimination and official inaction 
when complaints were filed.  The 1991 census shows a total of under 
7,000 Roma in the country but community leaders number the group in the 
tens of thousands. 
 
Other minority groups--Slovaks, Czechs, Italians, Hungarians--did not 
report significant discrimination to the same extent as the Serb 
community.  At the start of the autumn school year, ethnic Hungarian 
parents complained that only children whose parents were both registered 
to be of Hungarian ethnicity could register in Hungarian schools, 
preventing many children of mixed background from attending.  The 
Italian minority in Istria and other ethnic communities alleged 
disproportionate numbers of mobilizations prior to both military 
offensives, as a test of their loyalty to Croatia. 
 
In general, non-Serb minorities in the Serb-occupied areas were treated 
in abysmal fashion.  Most had already been "ethnically cleansed", but 
those Croats, Hungarians and other remaining non-Serbs were subject to 
summary detention, harassment, and physical intimidation. 
 
 
Section 6 Worker Rights 
 
     a.  The Right of Association 
 
All workers, except military and police personnel, are entitled to form 
or join unions of their own choosing without prior authorization.  There 
is an active labor movement with three national labor federations and 
independent associations of both blue-collar and white-collar members.  
In general, unions are independent of the Government and political 
parties. 
 
The right to strike is provided for in the Constitution and is limited 
only for the armed forces, police, government administration, and public 
services.  Strikes have been infrequent since the end of 1994, with two 
notable exceptions in the transportation sector.  Railway workers went 
on strike in December 1994 to protest poor safety conditions and late 
payment of wages.  Airline pilots went on strike for a few days in the 
fall due to a wage dispute.  Although there was relatively little labor 
unrest, workers continue to complain about the inability of government-
owned or government-run institutions or industries to pay wages on time.  
For example, teachers who struck at the beginning of the 1994-95 
academic year continued to protest government wage policy and on more 
than one occasion threatened to resume strike activity.  Despite strikes 
and protests, the Government hewed closely to the austerity program it 
implemented in October 1993 as part of its economic stabilization 
program.  The railway strike, however, succeeded in gaining greater 
union representation within management. 
 
Unions may freely affiliate internationally. 
 
     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Collective bargaining is protected by law and practiced freely.  In the 
spring, Parliament passed a new Labor Code, with union support, which 
revised the statutes governing collective bargaining contracts, 
protection for striking workers, and legal limitations on the ability of 
employers to conduct "lockouts  during labor disputes.  Many enterprises 
which were "socially owned" have been "transformed" or nationalized as a 
first step towards privatization.   In the current transition to 
privatization and a free market economy, unions are under pressure due 
to job losses, general unemployment in a weakened economy, and their own 
struggle to become genuine free trade unions. 
 
The new Labor Code deals directly with antiunion discrimination issues.  
It allows unions to challenge firings in court, and eliminates 
provisions under which illness had been a valid reason for employers to 
fire workers.  It also erases provisions which, under the old code, 
required union shop stewards to remain on the job while serving full 
time on workers' councils, and grants them the right of reinstatement 
when service is completed.   Nevertheless, the trade union federations 
have alleged that the Government employs strong-arm tactics against 
employees involved in labor disputes and strikes to force them back to 
work.  Some threats are alleged to include mobilization, or "work 
obligations," whereby outside workers are drafted to fill positions. 
 
There are no export processing zones. 
 
     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
Forced or compulsory work is constitutionally forbidden, and   there 
were no documented instances of it.  The Ministry of Labor and Social 
Welfare is the agency charged with enforcing the ban on coerced or 
forced labor. 
 
     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The minimum age for youth employment is 15, and it is enforced by the 
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.  Under the Constitution, children 
may not be employed before reaching the legally determined age, nor may 
they be forced or allowed to do work that is harmful to their health or 
morality.  Workers under age 18 are entitled to special protection at 
work and are prohibited from heavy manual labor.  Education is mandatory 
up to age 14. 
 
     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
There are national minimum wage standards.  Public service unions are 
pacesetters for the rest of the work force, and they were in the 
forefront of continued efforts to encourage the Government to honor its 
commitments.  As of October, the minimum gross monthly wage was roughly 
$200 (1024 kuna).   National regulations provide for a 42-hour workweek, 
overtime pay, a half-hour daily break, and a minimum of 18 days of paid 
vacation annually.  It is standard practice to provide a 24-hour rest 
period during the workweek. 
 
Health and safety standards are set by the Government and are enforced 
by the Ministry of Health.  In practice, industries are not diligent in 
meeting standards for worker protection. 
 
 
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[end of document]

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