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2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Croatia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Croatia, 29 April 2004, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In October 1998, the Government of Croatia established the Council for Children as the national coordinating body of the National Program of Action for Children.[1255] The government approved a National Plan of Action on trafficking in 2002, and has a National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons.[1256]

The government works with international organizations to assist trafficking victims, and cooperates with governments in the region. The government also conducts police training, and assisted an NGO network in establishing a victim hotline.[1257] The Government of Croatia signed the Agreement on Cooperation to Prevent and Combat Trans-border Crime with the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative.[1258] In addition, the government cooperates with the IOM,[1259] which maintains an office in Zagreb and has received funding to conduct regional anti-trafficking programs. The specific goals of the IOM program are to conduct research into the problem of trafficking, raise public awareness of the issue, and hold capacity building programs for police and potential law enforcers.[1260] UNICEF has education programs to improve curricula, train teachers, and address ethnic intolerance in order to positively affect children's school attendance, particularly in areas where Bosnian or Serbian refugees are returning home.[1261] The Office for National Minorities has a special program for the inclusion of Roma children in the education system in Croatia.[1262]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Croatia are unavailable. According to government officials, only a small number of children ages 15 to 18 years are employed, mainly in the textile and maritime industries.[1263] Reports indicate that Croatia is primarily a transit country, but to a limited extent is also a destination country for trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation.[1264] According to research conducted by IOM between March and September 2001, 8 percent of the Croatian population surveyed responded that there was a case of prostitution of a foreign minor in their community.[1265]

Education is free and compulsory in Croatia.[1266] The Law of Primary Education (1990) requires 8 years mandatory education for children to begin at 6 years of age.[1267] Children generally complete compulsory education at age 14. However, most Croatian children remain in school until age 18.[1268] In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 91.3 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 84.1 percent.[1269] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Croatia. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[1270] In general, primary school attendance is reported to be lower among ethnic Roma, many of whom do not go to school at all, or drop out around the second or third grade.[1271]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Law (No. 758/1995) sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years, and children ages 15 to 18 may only work with written permission from a legal guardian.[1272] The minimum work age is enforced by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.[1273] According to stipulations in the Labor Law and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, children under age 18 are prohibited from working overtime, at night, under dangerous labor conditions, or in any other job that may be harmful to a child's health, morality, or development.[1274]

The Constitution prohibits forced or bonded labor.[1275] There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons; however, trafficking-related offenses can be prosecuted under sections of the Criminal Code dealing with the establishment of slavery and transportation of slaves, and the illegal transfer of persons across state borders.[1276] The Criminal Code also outlaws international prostitution, including solicitation of a minor, and prohibits procurement of minors for sexual purposes.[1277] The law also forbids using children for pornographic purposes.[1278]

The Government of Croatia ratified ILO Convention 138 on October 8, 1991, and ILO Convention 182 on July 17, 2001.[1279]

[1255] Council members include representatives of the ministries and state administration organizations charged with child welfare, parliamentarians, prominent experts for children's rights and child welfare, and media personnel. The Council ensures monitoring and coordination of government efforts in implementing the Programme and application of the Convention of the Rights of the Child through the year 2005. See Government of Croatia, National Report on Follow-up to the World Summit for Children, 2000, UNICEF, 2000; available from

[1256] The Plan was approved in November 2002. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Croatia, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6f; available from

[1257] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2003: Croatia, Washington, D.C., June 11, 2003; available from

[1258] UNICEF, Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe, June 2002, 119; available from The Government of Croatia is a member of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, and has participated in regional anti-trafficking efforts through the initiative's Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime. See SECI Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime, SECI States, [online] December 12, 2003 [cited January 6, 2004]; available from See also SECI Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime, Operation Mirage: Evaluation Report, Bucharest, January 21, 2003; available from

[1259] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Croatia.

[1260] UNICEF, Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe, 119, 21, 23. See also IOM, IOM Counter Trafficking Strategy for the Balkans and Neighbouring Countries, January 2001, 2-3.

[1261] UNICEF is also working to improve the national capacity to monitor children's rights and to increase government allocations for child social services and child protection. See UNICEF, Consolidated Donor Report for Southeastern Europe, January – December 2000, 73, 74; available from

[1262] Government of Croatia, National Report – 2000: Croatia.

[1263] USDOL, Regulation of Child Labor in the Republic of Croatia, 1998.

[1264] UNICEF, Trafficking in Human Beings in Southeastern Europe, 117.

[1265] The largest percent who had heard about child prostitution in their community was in Slavonia, which borders Hungary, the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 1996-1998, Slavonia also had the largest number of international peacekeepers. See Ibid., 118.

[1266] Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, Article 65; available from

[1267] U.S. Embassy Croatia official, electronic communication to USDOL official, July 17, 2002. See also UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Croatia, prepared by Ministry of Education and Sport, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84; available from

[1268] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Croatia, Section 5.

[1269] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[1270] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[1271] Ethnic Roma face discrimination, particularly in the labor market and in schools. See Ruman Russinov and Savelina Danova, Field Report: The ERRC in Croatia, European Roma Rights Center, Summer 1998; available from Only a small fraction of Romani children in Croatia advance to secondary school. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Croatia, Section 5.

[1272] Children under age 15 may work or participate in artistic or entertainment functions (such as making movies) with special permission from the parent or guardian and the labor inspector, assuming that the work is not harmful to the child's health, morality, education, or development. See Croatia Labor Law (No. 758/95), Articles 14 (1) (2) and 15; available from

[1273] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Croatia, Section 6d.

[1274] Croatia Labor Law (No. 758/95), Articles 16 and 33 (4). See also Government of Croatia, Safety and Health Protection at the Workplace Act, Article 40; available from The list of "harmful activities" is determined by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare with the Ministry of Health. See Davor Stier, letter to USDOL official, October 10, 2000.

[1275] Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, Article 23. The penalty is imprisonment for 6 months to 5 years. See also Government of Croatia, Criminal Code, as cited in The Protection Project Legal Library; available from

[1276] Government of Croatia, Criminal Code, Articles 175 and 78. From 1998 through August 2002, the government reported that 105 persons were prosecuted using related provisions of the Criminal Code, and 8 persons were convicted. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Croatia, Section 6f.

[1277] Article 178 (1) of the Criminal Code indicates that international prostitution pertains to, "Whoever procures, entices or leads away another person to offer sexual services for profit within a state excluding the one in which such a person has residence or of which he is a citizen" and Article 178 (2) indicates, "Whoever, by force or threat to use force or deceit, coerces or induces another person to go to the state in which he has no residence or of which he is not a citizen, for the purpose of offering sexual services upon payment.... " The penalty for international prostitution involving a child or minor is imprisonment for 1 to 10 years. The penalty for procuring a child is imprisonment for 1 to 8 years. See Government of Croatia, Criminal Code, Articles 178-95.

[1278] The penalty for exploiting children or minors for pornographic purposes is imprisonment from 1 to 5 years. The penalty for exposing a child to pornography will be a fine or imprisonment for up to one year. Ibid., Articles 196-97 as cited in Interpol, Legislation of Interpol member states on sexual offenses against children, [online] [cited June 26, 2003]; available from

[1279] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 5, 2002]; available from

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