Human rights and public security cannot be viewed as opposites, stressed Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia and Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) Lora Vidović speaking at the conference Human Rights Challenges Now: The Ombudsman Facing Threats taking place in Barcelona on 26 - 27 April 2016.

Following the recent terrorist attacks the EU countries are witnessing a rise in Islamophobic incidents, which has led to increased fear and feelings of insecurity in the Muslim communities. However, labelling an entire community because of the acts of individuals is counterproductive and encourages human rights violations, additionally fueling conflict in an already inflammatory situation, stated Ombudswoman Vidović.

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Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks arrived on 25 April 2016 for his five-day visit to Croatia. Mr Muižnieks started his visit by meeting the Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia, Ms Lora Vidović with whom he discussed the state of human rights in the country. The Commissioner is familiar with the report submitted by the Ombudswoman to the Croatian Parliament at the end of March and has announced he will discuss some of the issues the Ombudswoman pointed out in her report with the members of the government and the representatives of the international organizations and the civil society organizations he will be meeting in the course of the week. Along with Ombudswoman Vidović the meeting was attended by Deputy Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter and Deputy Ombudsman Mario Krešić.

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The richness of the society grows with its diversity and the variety of cultures, nations and religious communities it is comprised of. It is this last element – religious pluralism – that is the focus of the Religious Freedom Day (30 January).

Religious Freedom Day is being marked at the initiative of the International Association for Religious Freedom, a non-governmental organization holding a consultative status with the UN, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. While in Croatia this day is marked every year on the last Saturday in January, various states around the world commemorate it on different dates. All commemorations, however, have the same goal – to nurture the tolerance and respect for individuals belonging to all religious communities as well as those identifying as irreligious.

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