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Victims' rights - by country

Croatia

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Croatia

What information will I get from the authority after the crime occurred (e.g. police, public prosecutor) but before I even report the crime?

The Code of Criminal Procedure does not regulate the contents of the information sheet provided to the victim after the offence has occurred and before it is reported. Everyone has the right and option to contact the State Attorney's Office, where they can report a crime, deposit a statement, or make a submission on a matter falling within the State Attorney's remit. The individual contacting the Office will receive information on how to report the crime and other basic information on his/her rights and obligations.

Police officers are required to record the report of a crime that is prosecuted ex officio.

Furthermore, everyone is entitled to appropriate police protection if there are reasonable grounds for providing such protection.

Victim and witness support departments, which have been established by seven county courts, provide emotional support and information to victims, witnesses, and their families on their rights (including technical and practical information). Information and support are provided regardless of the stage of proceedings. The victim will receive information and support even if he/she fails to report the crime. Those departments also refer victims and witnesses to specialised civil society institutions and organisations, depending on their needs.

I don't live in the EU country where the crime took place (EU and non-EU citizens). How are my rights protected?

Provisions regulating the rights of victims and civil parties apply equally without regard for nationality because Croatian criminal legislation applies to anyone who commits a crime within Croatia’s borders. Parties to and participants in proceedings are entitled to use their mother tongue.

The police, the State Attorney's Office and the courts are required, under the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act, to provide information to victims of crime on their rights under those acts. This means that the State Attorney's Office and the courts are required to examine the possibilities, both before criminal proceedings and during any stage thereof, for the individual charged to compensate the civil party for any loss/damage he/she may have suffered as a result of the offence, to inform the civil party of his/her right to use his/her mother tongue and to lodge a property-law claim (the right to compensation), verbally, in a language understood by the victim, or in writing, either in Croatian or in English. The State Attorney’s Office and the courts are also required to provide the victim, at his/her request, with general instructions and information on how to complete the claim and which supporting documents to submit. Information sheets containing information on the victim’s right to compensation are available in Croatian and English, as is the Claim for Compensation Form. These documents, in Croatian and English versions, can be downloaded from the website of the Croatian Ministry of Justice.

Any victim who reports a crime will receive information on his/her rights from the police. After informing the victim verbally, the police officer will hand out information in writing on the victim’s rights and any available information on services protecting and supporting victims. The latter include a number for the freephone victim support helpline.

For individuals without any knowledge of Croatian, a rights information sheet is available in other languages from the police.

Volunteers at the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanours(116-006) provide emotional support, information on rights and practical information. They also refer victims to other competent services and organisations to ensure they receive any additional information and other forms of support and assistance. This helpline is open from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and the staff can take calls in Croatian and English.

If I report a crime, what information will I receive?

a) The victim and civil party are entitled, within two months of pressing charges or reporting a crime, to request information from the State Attorney’s Office on the action taken in response to the charges/report. They will be informed by the State Attorney’s Office of the action taken within a reasonable time, no later than thirty days from the date of the request, unless the request jeopardises the effectiveness of the proceedings. The decision to withhold such information must be communicated to the victim or civil party making the request.

b) The State Attorney will suspend the investigation by a decision:

  • if the offence with which the individual is charged is not an offence prosecuted ex officio;
  • if the circumstances exclude the charged individual’s culpability, unless the unlawful act was committed in a state of mental incapacity;
  • if the statute of limitations has expired for the crime or if the offence is subject to an amnesty or pardon, or if there are other circumstances proscribing prosecution; and
  • if there is no evidence that the individual charged has committed the offence.

The decision to suspend the investigation is sent to the civil party and the individual charged, who will immediately be released if he/she has been placed in custody or on remand. In addition to the decision letter, the civil party will receive information, in accordance with Article 55 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, on how to pursue prosecution him/herself.

c) After examining the report and carrying out a check in the information system of the State Attorney's Office, the State Attorney will reject the report by a reasoned decision if it follows from the report itself:

  • that the offence is not an offence that can be prosecuted ex officio;
  • that the statute of limitations has expired for the offence, or that the offence is subject to an amnesty or pardon, or that the offence has already been finally adjudicated in court, or that there are other circumstances proscribing prosecution;
  • that the circumstances exclude culpability;
  • that there is no reason to believe that the suspect committed the offence reported; or
  • that information in the report suggests that the report is not credible.

No appeals are allowed against the State Attorney’s decision to dismiss a report.

Unless otherwise stipulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure, the State Attorney will inform the victim of his/her decision to dismiss the report and provide his/her reasons for doing so within eight days. The State Attorney will also provide information on how the victim may pursue prosecution him/herself. The State Attorney will promptly inform the person who made the report and the individual charged of his/her decision to dismiss the report, if so requested by either party.

If the State Attorney cannot assess the credibility of allegations from the report itself or if information in the report fails to provide sufficient grounds for a decision to initiate an investigation or gather evidence, the State Attorney will conduct enquiries him/herself or instruct the police to do so.

d) The custody supervisor will release the individual arrested or detained immediately:

  • if instructed to do so by the State Attorney;
  • if the arrested individual was not interrogated within the statutory deadline; or
  • if detention was cancelled.

e) The State Attorney will summon a witness or expert in writing to assist with evidence gathering. The summons may also be sent by the investigator on the State Attorney’s instructions. The court will summon a witness or expert to testify at an evidentiary hearing or attend a court hearing. The competent body will set in advance the time and place where evidence will be gathered. The person summoned will be warned of the consequences of any failure on his/her part to attend.

Am I entitled to free interpreting or translation services (when I contact the police or other authorities, or during the investigation and trial)?

A victim participating in criminal proceedings as the civil party is entitled to:

  • use his/her mother tongue, including sign language, and request assistance from an interpreter if he/she does not understand or use Croatian, or from a sign language interpreter in case the civil party is deaf or deafblind.

How does the authority ensure that I understand and that I am understood (if I am a child; if I have a disability)?

Unless otherwise stipulated by a special law, the investigating judge will hear any child witness under 14 years of age. The hearing will take place without the judge or the parties being present in the same room as the child, using an audio-video device operated by a professional assistant. The hearing will be assisted by a psychologist, educator, or another professional person. The hearing may also be attended by a parent or guardian, unless this is contrary to the interests of the investigation or the child. The parties may put questions to the child witness through a professional, subject to the investigating judge’s approval. The hearing session will be recorded using an audio-video device and the recording will be sealed and appended to the minutes. The child witness may be summoned for a second hearing in exceptional circumstances only, with the same procedure being followed.

Unless otherwise stipulated by a special law, the investigating judge will hear any child witness aged 14-18. The child, especially if he/she is the victim of the offence, will be treated with consideration to ensure that the examination does not adversely affect the child’s psyche. Particular care will be taken to protect the child.

Any witness who cannot respond to a summons for reasons of old age, illness, or disability, may be heard in his/her own flat or other dwelling. Such witnesses may be heard using an audio-video device operated by a professional. If warranted by the witness’s condition, the examination will be conducted in such a way as to allow the parties to put questions to him/her without being present in the same room as the witness. If required, the hearing session will be recorded using an audio-video device and the recording will be sealed and appended to the minutes. This examination procedure will be followed if so requested by the victim of a sexual or human trafficking or domestic violence offence appearing as the witness. Such a witness may be summoned for a second hearing in exceptional circumstances only, if deemed necessary by the court.

Victim support services

Who provides victim support?

Victim and witness support departments, which have been established by seven county courts (Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Rijeka, Sisak, Zadar and Vukovar) provide support to victims and witnesses giving evidence at these courts and at the municipal courts of these cities/towns. These departments also provide support at misdemeanour courts in domestic violence cases and refer victims and witnesses to specialised civil society institutions and organisations, depending on their needs.

Information and support are provided by telephone and when the victim/witness enters the court building. Information is also provided by email.

For more information, please visit the following Croatian Ministry of Justice page:

https://pravosudje.gov.hr/o-ministarstvu/djelokrug-6366/iz-pravosudnog-sustava-6372/podrska-zrtvama-i-svjedocima/6156

Will the police automatically refer me to victim support?

When informing the victim of his/her rights, the police will hand out information in writing on the victim’s rights and any available information on services supporting victims. The latter includes a number for the freephone victim support helpline. The rights information sheet includes the contact details of:

  • the competent victim and witness support department;
  • the civil society organisations in the relevant county;
  • the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanours (116-006);

How is my privacy protected?

Competent authorities may collect personal information only for purposes laid down by law, as part of their operations set out by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Personal information may be processed only when specified by a law or another regulation, and such processing must be limited to the purpose for which the information has been collected. Any further processing of such information is permitted, unless it is contrary to the purpose for which the information has been collected, and provided the competent bodies are authorised to process such information for another purpose laid down by law and the further processing is necessary and commensurate with the other purpose.

Personal information relating to someone’s health or sexual life may be processed in exceptional cases only, where the criminal offence, which is subject to a five-year custodial sentence or a stricter one, could not be detected or prosecuted in any other way, or where detection/prosecution would be fraught with disproportionate difficulties.

No processing of personal information relating to race or ethnicity, political persuasion, religious or philosophical belief, or trade union membership, is permitted.

Personal information collected for the purposes of criminal proceedings may be forwarded to government bodies in accordance with a special law, and to other legal entities, only if the State Attorney’s Office or the court finds they require such information for a purpose laid down by law. When such information is forwarded, the relevant legal entities will be reminded of their duty to protect the information of the persons to whom it relates.

Personal information may be used, in accordance with the regulations, in other criminal proceedings, in other proceedings dealing with punishable acts that are conducted in Croatia, in procedures relating to international criminal justice assistance, and in international police cooperation efforts.

Do I have to report a crime before I can access victim support?

The victim will receive information and support from the victim and witness support department of the relevant court or civil society organisation even if he/she fails to report the crime.

Personal protection if I'm in danger

In accordance with Article 99 of the Police Tasks and Powers Act, the police will, unless stipulated otherwise by a special law, and for the period of time there are reasonable grounds for such action, ensure appropriate protection for the victim and any other person who has provided or may provide information relevant to the criminal proceedings, or for any person close to them, if they or persons close to them are at risk of danger from the offender or other individuals involved in the criminal proceedings. Victim protection provided by the police means 24-hour physical protection.

What types of protection are available?

In accordance with Article 130 of the Misdemeanours Act, the police may, temporarily and for up to eight days, order a precautionary measure against an individual reasonably suspected to have committed the offence. In practice, this usually translates into injunctions prohibiting the suspect from visiting a particular place or area (eviction from the victim’s home), approaching a particular person, or making or maintaining contact with a particular person. Within eight days the police will file charges with the competent misdemeanour court, which will then make a decision as to whether to suspend or extend the precautionary measure instigated. In addition, during the misdemeanour proceedings, the court may, under the Domestic Violence (Protection) Act, order the following measures to be taken against the offender:

  1. compulsory psychosocial treatment;
  2. an injunction prohibiting the offender from approaching, harassing, or stalking the victim of domestic violence;
  3. eviction from the shared home;
  4. compulsory treatment for substance abuse.

Under the Misdemeanours Act, the court may also resort to other protective and precautionary measures designed to protect the victim from being approached or harassed by the suspect.

Furthermore, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure, the court and the State Attorney may, instead of remanding the individual charged in custody, order one or more precautionary measures, including an injunction to prohibit the offender from visiting a particular place or area, from approaching a particular person, from making or maintaining contact with a particular person,  or an injunction prohibiting the offender from stalking or harassing the victim or another person, or eviction from the victim’s home.

Who can offer me protection?

The victim can obtain information from the police about all his/her rights, including information on his/her right to protection, the types of protection offered, and on action to be taken by the police to protect the victim.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the offender?

Once the investigation has been completed and the relevant documents have been submitted to the competent criminal justice bodies, the police will no longer assess the victim’s needs except to carry out any of the protective or precautionary measures ordered. If reports of new circumstances are received pointing to a renewed threat from the offender, the police will take further action to protect the victim in line with its assessment and the facts of the case.

Will someone assess my case to see if I am at risk of further harm by the criminal justice system (during investigation and trial)?

The criminal justice system (during investigative and court proceedings) operates in such a way as to respect the victim’s rights and his/her status in the criminal proceedings, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. Before examining the victim, the prosecuting body conducting the investigation will assess the victim’s situation in cooperation with bodies, organisations or institutions that provide support and assistance to victims of crime. Assessing the victim’s situation includes determining the need to apply special protection measures for the victim’s benefit. If such a need exists, the prosecuting body will determine the protection measures to be applied (special questioning arrangements for the victim, the use of communication technologies to prevent any visual contact between the victim and the offender, and other measures laid down by law). Where the victim of a crime is a child, the need to apply special protection measures will be presumed and special protection measures will be determined. The assessment of the victim’s situation takes particular account of the victim’s personal characteristics, the type and nature of the offence, and the circumstances in which the offence was committed. Special attention will be paid to victims who have suffered major harm because of the gravity of the offence, victims of an offence committed because of the victim’s particular personal characteristics, and victims whose relationship to the offender makes them particularly vulnerable.

What protection is available for very vulnerable victims?

The criminal justice system (during investigative and court proceedings) operates in such a way as to respect the victim’s rights and his/her status in the criminal proceedings, in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. Before examining the victim, the prosecuting body conducting the investigation will assess the victim’s situation in cooperation with bodies, organisations or institutions that provide support and assistance to victims of crime. Assessing the victim’s situation includes determining the need to apply special protection measures for the victim’s benefit. If such a need exists, the prosecuting body will determine the protection measures to be applied (special questioning arrangements for the victim, the use of communication technologies to prevent any visual contact between the victim and the offender, and other measures laid down by law). Where the victim of a crime is a child, the need to apply special protection measures will be presumed and special protection measures will be determined. The assessment of the victim’s situation takes particular account of the victim’s personal characteristics, the type and nature of the offence, and the circumstances in which the offence was committed. Special attention will be paid to victims who have suffered major harm because of the gravity of the offence, victims of an offence committed because of the victim’s particular personal characteristics, and victims whose relationship to the offender makes them particularly vulnerable.

I am a minor – do I have special rights?

If the victim of a crime is a child, he/she has the following additional rights in addition to the victim’s ordinary rights:

  1. the right to be represented by an authorised person, with the cost of such representation being funded from the government budget;
  2. the right to have his/her personal information treated confidentiality;
  3. the right to have the public excluded.

A child is any person under 18 years of age.

A child witness or victim is examined by the investigating judge at an evidentiary hearing, and the summons is sent to his/her parents or guardians.

My family member died because of the crime – what are my rights?

Under the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act, when the direct victim dies as a result of a violent crime, the indirect victim (the spouse, partner, parent, foster child, foster parent, stepmother, stepfather or stepchild of the direct victim or the person with whom the direct victim lived in a same-sex relationship) is entitled to financial compensation as prescribed by the Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act.

The indirect victim who was supported by the deceased (direct) victim is entitled to compensation of no more than HRK 70 000 as a result of the loss of statutory maintenance and to compensation of no more than HRK 5 000 in respect of normal funeral expenses where he/she has paid them.

Any person whose family member lost his/her life as a victim of a crime is entitled, as the civil party, to participate in the criminal proceedings and claim compensation (whether in criminal or civil proceedings).

My family member was a victim of crime – what are my rights?

The indirect victim is considered to be the spouse, partner, child, parent, foster child, foster parent, stepmother, stepfather or stepchild of the direct victim or the person with whom the direct victim lived in a same-sex relationship.

The indirect victim is also considered to be the grandfather, grandmother, or grandchild, if one of them is the direct victim, provided that the three shared a joint household for an extended period and that the grandfather and grandmother stood in for the parents.
Cohabitation and same-sex relationships will be interpreted according to Croatian regulations.

If the victim of a crime has lost his/her life, indirect victims are entitled to compensation (as a result of the loss of statutory maintenance and in respect of normal funeral expenses).

Can I access mediation services? What are the conditions? Will I be safe during mediation?

Croatia operates the victim-offender mediation model in pre-criminal proceedings for minor and young adult offenders. This is part of the conditional discretion system. In so doing, it observes the provisions of the Juvenile Courts Act governing the special obligation for minor and young adult offenders to engage in the mediation process through out-of-court settlement. In other words, if the minor offender complies with this obligation, he/she will be spared from standing trial.

Since 2013, Croatia has had a total of 60 mediators, who received their training in a one-year programme consisting of 170 teaching hours (comprising lectures, assignments, roleplay and practical mentoring exercises, and supervision). They are the only professionals in Croatia authorised to administer restorative justice in criminal cases and they received their certificates from the Croatian Ministry of Social Policy and Young People, the Out-of-Court Settlement Association, and UNICEF.

As a result, the central town of each Croatian county operates its own out-of-court settlement service.

Where can I find the law stating my rights?

The Code of Criminal Procedure
The Victims of Crime (Financial Compensation) Act

Last update: 04/07/2018

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.

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