Croatia (Tier 1)

Croatia is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to conditions of sex trafficking and forced labor. Croatian women and girls fall victim to sex trafficking within the country, and women and girls from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other parts of Eastern Europe are subjected to sex trafficking in Croatia. Some Croatian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Western European countries. Women and men reportedly have been subjected to forced labor in agricultural sectors, and children, including Roma, are subjected to forced begging, theft, labor, and sexual exploitation.

The Government of Croatia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, the government sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, though it showed mixed efforts in victim protection this year. Although the number of victims identified and cared for increased during the reporting period, the funding to care for those victims decreased. Of concern, the government failed to identify children in prostitution as victims of trafficking, instead prosecuting them for prostitution. The government's efforts on prevention, however, did improve; it focused research and outreach efforts on understanding and combating labor trafficking.

Recommendations for Croatia: Intensify efforts to identify trafficking victims proactively among vulnerable populations, particularly women and children in prostitution, children engaged in begging, and migrant men in the agricultural sector; ensure that identified trafficking victims are not punished for committing unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked; strengthen partnerships with NGOs to enlist their help in identifying victims during authorities' initial contact with potential victims among women and children detained for prostitution offenses; ensure that trafficking offenders are punished with sentences commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed; intensify investigations of trafficking crimes in high tourism sectors and other areas with prostitution; expand awareness efforts to educate clients of the sex trade about the demand for commercial sex acts and forced labor; and educate the public about prostitution and its links to trafficking.


The Government of Croatia increased the number of trafficking offenders investigated and prosecuted for trafficking during the year, though its number of trafficking convictions diminished. Sentences for trafficking were also lower in 2010. Croatia prohibits both forced labor and sex trafficking through Criminal Provision 175 of its penal code. Provision 175 prescribes penalties of one to 10 years' imprisonment, or higher sentences if the offense is aggravated; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for rape. During the reporting period, the Government of Croatia investigated 19 suspected trafficking offenders, an increase from 13 investigated in 2009. The Croatian authorities prosecuted 10 alleged trafficking offenders and convicted three in 2010; this compares with six suspected offenders prosecuted and six convicted in 2009. There were no convictions of labor trafficking offenders reported. The sex trafficking offenders received prison sentences ranging from one year to one year and six months. These sentences were lower than those imposed in 2009, during which trafficking offenders received sentences of two to eight years' imprisonment. During the reporting period, the Ministry of Interior trained 930 border police and 110 traffic police on combating human trafficking. The government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any public officials complicit in human trafficking.


The government demonstrated adequate efforts to protect trafficking victims in 2010, despite penalizing children in prostitution. The government funded two NGO trafficking shelters, one for adults and one for women and minors. The Croatian government provided $68,759 to sustain the shelters this year, a decrease from $96,461 in funding provided in 2009. Foreign victims were offered the same standard of care as domestic victims, including medical care. Adult victims of trafficking were not detained in the shelters; they were allowed to leave shelters at will. The government reported identifying 12 victims of trafficking during the reporting period, an increase from the eight victims identified in 2009. This year, eight victims of trafficking were cared for in the government-funded shelters, an increase from four victims cared for in shelters in the prior year. The government continued employing a national referral mechanism to identify and care for victims, deploying mobile teams with NGO participation to identify and refer trafficking victims for assistance. There were continuing reports, however, that police officers misidentified cases of trafficking at the initial identification stage, before mobile teams were summoned, and NGOs urged the government to use the referral mechanism for all potential cases of trafficking. There was at least one case in which the national referral mechanism failed to identify or care for victims of trafficking. The Croatian government prosecuted two children in prostitution and failed to identify them as trafficking victims.

The Government of Croatia made efforts to improve its identification of labor trafficking victims. The government collaborated with the International Center for Migration Policy Development to assess labor trafficking trends and prepare handbooks and guidelines for its officials on labor exploitation. From March through September 2010, the Government of Croatia held eight training sessions, for approximately 240 officials, to educate law enforcement, labor inspectors, and prosecutors on identifying and protecting victims of labor trafficking. The government provided legal alternatives to removal to victims of trafficking facing hardship or retribution at home through its temporary residence permits for victims, initially from six months to one year, which the government could extend based on a subsequent needs assessment. The government of Croatia encouraged victims of trafficking to participate in the criminal investigation of the offense; all victims participated this year in the investigative phase and two victims participated in the prosecution of the trafficking offenders.


The Croatian government continued its strong efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the year. The government monitored anti-trafficking efforts through its Anti-Trafficking Coordinator and its National Committee for the Suppression of Trafficking. The government published an annual report on its trafficking activities that it made available on its website. The government gathered data on its anti-trafficking activities, though not in a centralized or systematic method. It provided $45,454 to an NGO for work on trafficking prevention, including the support of a trafficking hotline. The government engaged in diverse trafficking training activities throughout the year. The Ministry of Interior delivered seminars for over 1,000 high school students on combating trafficking. In November, the Government Office for Human Rights and the Ministry of Tourism organized training on identifying trafficking victims for 50 tourist workers in the resort town Opatija. In May, the Office for Human Rights trained 40 students at the Croatian Diplomatic Academy on the national and international legal framework for combating trafficking. Croatian authorities provided training on human trafficking for both military and police personnel prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government's public awareness campaign addressed the demand for exploitation, including sex trafficking, but did not take specific measures to educate potential consumers of prostitution about the dangers inherent in the process. The government also funded NGOs that encouraged women to leave prostitution.


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