The Ombudsman has the mandate of the central equality body as of 1 January 2009, when the Anti-discrimination Act entered into force.
According to this Act the Ombudsman has the authority to:
1. receive reports from all natural and legal persons;
2. provide necessary information to natural and legal persons that have filed a complaint alleging discrimination regarding their rights and obligations and the possibilities of court and other protection;
3. if the court proceedings have not yet been initiated, examine individual reports and take actions falling within his/her competences required for the elimination of discrimination and the protection of the rights of discriminated persons;
4. warn the public about the occurrence of discrimination;
5. with the parties’ consent, conduct mediation with a possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement;
6. file criminal charges related to discrimination cases to the competent state attorney’s office;
7. collect and analyze statistical data on discrimination cases;
8. inform the Croatian Parliament on the occurrences of discrimination in his/her annual and, when required, special reports;
9. conduct surveys concerning discrimination, give opinions and recommendations, and suggest appropriate legal and strategic solutions to the Government of the Republic of Croatia.
COOPERATION WITH VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS
According to Article 15 of the Anti-discrimination Act the Ombudsman “shall consult social partners and civil society organizations dealing with the protection and promotion of human rights, organizations dealing with the protection of groups exposed to a high risk of discrimination, churches and religious organizations entered in the Register of Religious Congregations of the Republic of Croatia on the basis of the Act on the Legal Position of Religious Congregations, and the National Minorities Council” when drawing up regular reports, opinions and recommendations on the occurrence of discrimination.
The Ombudsman performs consultations on an annual basis when preparing his/her Annual Report by sending requests for data on discrimination occurrences to NGOs dealing with antidiscrimination issues, to major religious communities, major trade union organizations, the association of employers and to the National Minority Council. Additionally, a public call is also published on the Ombudsman's web page inviting all of the organizations stated in Article 15 to make available to the Ombudsman the information on discrimination occurrences available to them.
Besides cooperating during the process of drafting the Annual Report, the Ombudsman also cooperates on an on-going basis with civil society organizations and NGOs on individual discrimination cases and in different promotional activities. Mutual sharing of experience and knowledge is achieved through participation of the representatives of the civil society organizations in all public events organized by the Ombudsman and the participation of the representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman in different public events, round table discussions or training sessions organized by the NGOs.
Additionally, with the aim of strengthening the cooperation and achieving greater visibility on the regional level, the Ombudsman has chosen five NGOs dealing with anti-discrimination issues to become regional antidiscrimination contact points.
These organizations are:
1.) Civil Rights Project Sisak, Rimska 6, 44 000 Sisak,
2.) Center for Peace, Legal Advice and Psychosocial Help Vukovar, Fra Antuna Tomaševića 32, 32 000 Vukovar,
3.) Center for Civil Initiatives Poreč, Partizanska 2d, 52 440 Poreč,
4.) Censorship Plus, Šetalište Bačvice 10, 21 000 Split,
5.) Center for Peace Studies, Selska cesta 112/a, 10 000 Zagreb.
COOPERATION WITH THE EUROPEAN NETWORK OF EQUALITY BODIES
The Ombudsman is an Equinet member from 2009.
During the year, representatives of the Office of the Ombudsman participate in various training sessions and expert meetings organized by the Equinet.
They are also members of Equinet's working groups. At present, the Office of the Ombudsman’s representatives are members of the working groups Equality Law in Practice and Communication Strategies and Practices.
AWARENESS RAISING ACTIVITIES
In 2009 within the scope of the project “Supporting the Implementation of the Anti-discrimination Act”, financed through the Progress Program, the Office of the Ombudsman conducted a national antidiscrimination awareness raising campaign. The campaign was implemented with the partners on the project - the Government’s Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities and the NGO Center for Peace Studies.
The campaign included the broadcast of an antidiscrimination TV spot on the national television, the broadcast of an antidiscrimination radio spot on different radio stations, the display of billboards and posters with antidiscrimination messages as well as promotional leaflets which were distributed all over Croatia.
The campaign’s message was “Spot the prejudices! Stop discrimination!“.
In 2012 in cooperation with the Croatian Employment Service and the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities the Office of the Ombudsman implemented a public antidiscrimination campaign focused on raising the awareness of discrimination in the area of work and working relations.
In the framework of this campaign a TV spot was produced and broadcasted on national and commercial TV channels, posters were displayed in the public transportation vehicles, web banners were placed on web portals relevant for labor market processes, and different promotional materials were distributed to the employers, containing the campaign’s message: “Equally Diverse”.
In 2009 the Office of the Ombudsman conducted the first survey on the attitudes regarding discrimination and the level of awareness of discrimination in Croatia. The survey was implemented in cooperation with partners (the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities) and was conducted by means of a telephone questionnaire.
The same set of questions was used in a survey conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012. The second survey was undertaken with the purpose of making a comparison with the survey results from 2009, i.e. in order to see whether a change in attitudes has occurred and what the citizens’ perspective was on the most widespread discrimination grounds and areas where discrimination was taking place.