The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the Croatian prosecutorial authorities did not effectively respond to a report of a violent homophobic attack that occurred in 2010.
The ECHR found that articles of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment and discrimination had been violated in this case, the office of the Croatian representative to the Strasbourg-based court said on Thursday.
The case was brought by a woman after she was attacked by a man in a Zagreb nightclub in 2010. She refused his advances, saying that she was a lesbian, after which he severely beat and kicked her. She reported the attack to the authorities, but in her opinion they did not respond adequately and effectively to protect her human rights.
The attacker was convicted in minor-offence proceedings of breach of public peace and order and given a fine of HRK 300 (€40). The applicant lodged a criminal complaint before the State Attorney’s Office, alleging she had been the victim of a violent hate crime and discrimination.
The State Attorney’s Office rejected the criminal complaint because the attacker had already been prosecuted in the minor-offence proceedings for the same crime, saying that his prosecution would amount to double jeopardy.
ECHR: Proceedings failed to address the hate-crime element
The ECHR found in particular that the minor-offence proceedings against the attacker had not addressed the hate-crime element of the offence and had resulted in a derisory fine. It said that the authorities should have examined this element instead of rejecting the criminal complaint on the grounds of double jeopardy.
The ECHR found that the Croatian authorities, by unnecessarily instituting the ineffective minor-offence proceedings, had themselves undermined the possibility of putting properly into practice the relevant provisions and requirements of domestic criminal law.
The ruling is not final yet and it will become so if neither party applies to the ECHR Grand Chamber within the next three months.