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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Republic of Croatia

Violence by state and non-state actors is uncommon. However, there were several reports of police violence against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers during the year, primarily at the Serbian border.

Prison conditions do not meet international standards due to overcrowding and inadequate medical care.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Croatia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Croatia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Anti-torture Committee publishes report on periodic visit to Croatia focusing on police, prisons and psychiatry

Executive Summary, 2 October 2018

[accessed 2 June 2020]

LAW ENFORCEMENT ESTABLISHMENTS -  The  vast  majority  of  persons  met  by  the  delegation  stated  that  they  had  been  treated  correctly  by police officers at the time of apprehension and while in police custody. However, some allegations of physical  ill-treatment consisting of  slaps,  kicks  and  punches  inflicted  by  police  officers  at  the time  of  the  arrest  and  during  questioning  (including  during  so-called “informative talks”) were received  and,  in  a  few cases, the evidence recorded upon  admission to prison in the inmates’ medical files supported the allegations. The CPT recommends that police officers be reminded that physical  ill-treatment  is  unacceptable  and  it  invokes  the  need  for  perpetrators  to  be  subjected  to criminal penalties as well as disciplinary sanctions.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Croatia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 July 2021]


Physical Conditions: The ombudsperson’s 2019 annual report stated that in six of the 14 high-security units, the occupancy rate was more than 120 percent (considered critical according to the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Crime Problems). The prisons with the greatest overcrowding were those in Karlovac (175 percent of capacity), Osijek (174 percent), and Pozega (167 percent). The report noted that many prisoners resided in conditions that did not meet legal and international standards, and in some cases they were degrading and dangerous to inmates’ health.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 11 May 2020]


Violence by state and nonstate actors is uncommon. However, there were several reports of police violence against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers during the year, primarily at the Serbian border. Prison conditions do not meet international standards due to overcrowding and inadequate medical care.

UN Committee against Torture’s Concluding Observations on Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, Burundi, USA, Croatia and Kazakhstan

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, Geneva, 24 November 2014

[accessed 7 December 2014]

The UN Committee against Torture will be holding a news conference to discuss the concluding observations of its 53rd session ... Among the issues discussed during the session:

CROATIA: Failure to guarantee access to fundamental legal safeguards against torture for detainees, such as immediate access to a lawyer; insufficient monitoring of places of deprivation of liberty; amnesties for acts of torture; violence against women; situation of people in psychiatric establishments; lack of information regarding application of non-refoulement principle.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/CR/32/3 (2004)

[accessed 25 February 2013]

C. Subjects of concern

8. The Committee is concerned about the following:

(a) In connection with torture and ill-treatment which reportedly occurred during the 1991-1995 armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia:

(i) The reported failure of the State party to carry out prompt, impartial and full investigations, to prosecute the perpetrators and to provide fair and adequate compensation to the victims;

(ii) Allegations that double standards were applied at all stages of the proceedings against Serb defendants and in favour of Croat defendants in war crime trials;

(iii) The reported harassment, intimidation and threats faced by witnesses and victims testifying in proceedings and the lack of adequate protection from the State party;

(b) The fact that, to date, there have been no prosecutions or convictions for alleged crimes pursuant to article 176 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(c) The reported lack of prompt and adequate access by persons deprived of their liberty to legal and medical assistance and to contact with family members;

(d) In connection with asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants:

(i) The poor conditions of detention of those held in the Jezevo Reception Centre for Foreigners, including poor hygienic conditions and limited access to recreational activities;

(ii) The alleged cases of violence against those held in the Jezevo Reception Centre for Foreigners and the lack of prompt and impartial investigations into this matter;

(iii) The deprivation of their liberty for prolonged periods of time;

(e) The alleged failure of the State party to address the issue of violence and bullying between children and young adults placed in social care institutions;

(f) The alleged failure of the State party to prevent and fully and promptly investigate violent attacks by non-State actors against members of ethnic and other minorities;

(g) The poor regime for remand prisoners, who spend up to 22 hours a day in their cells without meaningful activities.

D. Recommendations

9. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Take effective measures to ensure impartial, full and prompt investigations into all allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators as appropriate and irrespective of their ethnic origin, and the provision of fair and adequate compensation for the victims;

(b) Ensure full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), inter alia by ensuring that all indicted persons in their territory are arrested and transferred to the custody of the Tribunal;

(c) Enforce all relevant legislation providing for the protection of witnesses and other participants in proceedings and ensure that sufficient funding is allocated for effective and comprehensive witness protection programmes;

(d) Make judges, prosecutors and lawyers fully aware of Croatia's international obligations in the field of human rights, particularly those enshrined in the Convention;

(e) Take measures to ensure in practice the right of all persons deprived of their liberty to have prompt access to counsel and a doctor of their choice, as well as to contact family members;

(f) Adopt all necessary measures to improve the material conditions of the reception centres for asylum-seekers and immigrants and ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all individuals accommodated in these centres;

(g) Refrain from detaining asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants for prolonged periods;

(h) Discontinue the practice of refusing access to asylum procedures because the authorities are unable to verify the identity of asylum-seekers owing to a lack of documentation or interpreters;

(i) Provide an information sheet in the appropriate languages to inform asylum-seekers of the asylum procedures immediately after they are apprehended or arrive in the territory of the State party;

(j) Allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) full access to asylum-seekers, and vice versa. UNHCR should normally be given access to individual files so that it can monitor asylum procedures and ensure that the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers are respected;

(k) Increase the protection of children and young adults placed in social care institutions, inter alia by ensuring that violent acts are reported and investigated, providing support and treatment for children and young adults with psychological problems, and ensuring that these institutions employ trained personnel, such as social workers, psychologists and pedagogues;

(l) Ensure the protection of members of ethnic and other minorities, inter alia by undertaking all effective measures to prosecute and punish all violent acts against these individuals, establishing programmes to raise awareness, prevent and combat this form of violence, and including this issue in the training of law enforcement officials and other relevant professional groups;

(m) Improve the regime of activities for remand prisoners in accordance with international standards;

(n) Provide information to the Committee on legal and other measures undertaken to ensure the systematic review of interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices for persons deprived of their liberty;

(o) Continue with its efforts to strengthen human rights education and training activities on the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment for law enforcement officials, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment;

(p) Provide to the Committee statistical data regarding cases of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment reported to administrative authorities and the result of the investigations, disaggregated by, inter alia, gender, ethnic group, geographical region, and type and location of place of deprivation of liberty, where it occurred. In addition, information should be provided regarding complaints and cases filed with domestic courts, including the results of investigations and the consequences for the victim in terms of redress and compensation.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

Despite some progress in prosecuting crimes under international law committed during the 1991-1995 war, the measures taken to address impunity remained inadequate. Many crimes allegedly committed by members of the Croatian Army and police forces against Croatian Serbs and other minorities remained uninvestigated. Discrimination against Roma, Croatian Serbs and LGBTI people continued.


Tomislav Merčep, former Assistant Minister of the Interior and the commander of the Ministry’s special reserve unit, who was indicted in 2011 and had been under arrest since 2010, was released in July. He had been charged in relation to the killing and enforced disappearance of 43 Croatian Serb civilians in the area of Zagreb and Pakračka poljana.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]


Interior ministry statistics showed a general decline in reports of police mistreatment. In June a court sentenced one police officer to 15 months in prison and another to 4 months probation for the severe beating in 2004 of a young man during questioning in Varazdin.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Croatia ",, [accessed <date>]