Human Rights Watch: Croatia's illegal pushbacks ignored by EU

NEWS 15.01.2020 09:21

"Despite reports about illegal and violent pushbacks of migrants by Croatian police into Bosnia and Serbia, in breach of EU refugee and human rights law, Croatia faced no consequences from EU institutions," the New-York based international human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch warned in its latest overview of human rights worldwide for 2019.

The report cited data provided by Croatia’s interior ministry which showed that over the first eight months of 2019, nearly 12,000 new migrants and asylum seekers were registered in the country, mainly coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey, an increase of more than 8,600 compared to the same period in 2018.

“In the same period 974 people claimed asylum and authorities approved 71 asylum requests, including 13 from 2018… Croatia reported that it blocked entry to 9,487 people at its borders in the first eight months of the year,” said Human Rights Watch.

The report on Croatia also mentioned a concerning level of historical revisionism through the downplaying of World War II crimes committed by the wartime Croatian fascist Ustasha regime.

“In January, a Europe-wide universities-led Holocaust Remembrance project found historical revisionism in Croatia among the highest in the European Union,” the report said.

It also reported that Croatia’s Ombudswoman, Lora Vidovic, as well as various civil society groups had expressed concern about intolerance against minorities, in reaction to several high profile violent attacks on ethnic Serbs living in Croatia.

In terms of human rights in schooling, the report mentioned that in July 2019 Croatia had ratified the Safe Schools Declaration in which signatory countries pledge to refrain from the military use of schools in wars. Launched by Norway in 2015 so far 101 countries have signed the declaration.

As for access to schooling, the report quoted Ombudswoman for Children, Helenca Pirnat-Dragicevic, who said that ethnic Roma children were the most deprived children group in 2019, with limited access to school services.