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Cablegate: Croatia: Input for Child Labor Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001758

SIPDIS


STATE FOR DRL/IL (HARDPOLE)
LABOR FOR ILAB (FAULKNER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD PHUM HR HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA: INPUT FOR CHILD LABOR REPORT

REF: STATE 193266

1. Croatia has a good record on preventing the worst forms
of child labor. The Government has strengthened its
legislative base and has made progress on implementation and
enforcement. In preparing our response to reftel, post met
with officials at the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare
and also sought input from representatives of human rights
NGOs and labor organizations. We advised our interlocutors
that they may submit their views to the USDOL directly (per
reftel).

2. Below follows post's response to questions posed in
reftel about Croatia's efforts to prevent the worst forms of
child labor. Responses are keyed to questions and indicators
posed in reftel instructions.

A - Does Croatia has adequate laws and regulations
proscribing the worst forms of child labor?

Indicators:

-Has Croatia ratified ILO Convention 182 or taken concrete
steps toward ratification?

Yes. The Croatian parliament adopted ILO Convention 182 on
the worst forms of child labor on July 17, 2001; the
convention went into force in Croatia on July 17, 2002.

-What laws and regulations have been promulgated on child
labor, such as minimum age(s) for employment or hazardous
forms of work? If there is a minimum age for employment, is
that age consistent with the age for completing educational
requirements?

Several laws and regulations have been promulgated on child
labor, including the labor law, government regulations on
minor employment (2002), Croatia's occupational safety act,
the revised criminal code, family act, law on ombudsman for
children (2003), defense act (2003), elementary education
act, law on juvenile courts, Croatia's constitution and the
national action plan for children. The minimum age for
employment is 15. Children between the ages 15 and 18 may
only work with written permission from a legal guardian.
Education is free and compulsory through grade eight and
generally completed by the age 14. According to the
occupational safety and health act, children under age 18 are
prohibited from working overtime, at night or under dangerous
labor conditions.

-Do Croatia's laws and regulations define the worst forms of
child labor or hazardous work as the ILO defines those terms?
If Croatia has ratified Convention 182, has it developed a
list of occupations considered to be worst forms of child
labor, as called for in article 4 of the convention?

There are no regulations in Croatia's legislation that
expressly define what is considered "a worst form of child
labor" but a series of laws and sub-acts regulate this issue.
Pursuant to Croatia's labor law, the ministry of labor and
social welfare passed regulations in 2002 restricting types
of employment that cannot be performed by a minor, stipulates
types of employment which can be performed by a minor only if
his/her health condition meets specific requirements.

-Have there been any recent governmental or judicial
initiatives to strengthen or enforce child labor legislation
and regulations?

The government strengthened child labor legislation and
regulations by adopting the following new regulations
government the employment of minors and by passing a new law
creating a national ombudsman for children (in effect since
June 18, 2003). In order to ensure better implementation of
the goals set under the national action program on children
the cabinet has founded the national council for children --
a group of state and local institutions that promote general
children's rights issues.

B) Does Croatia has adequate laws and regulations for the
implementation and enforcement of proscriptions against the
worst forms of child labor?

Indicators:

-What legal remedies are available to government agencies
that enforce child labor laws and regulations (criminal
penalties, civil fines, court orders)? -are these enforcement
remedies adequate to punish and deter violations?

Article 228 of the labor law stipulates penalties and fines

against companies and individuals found in violation of the
laws regulating the employment of minors under the age 15
that range from HRK 10,000 to 30,000 for companies, and from
HRK 3,000 to 10,000 for individuals. Croatia's criminal code
stipulates sanctions for a range of crimes violating human
freedom, such as slavery, international prostitution, a
procurement of minors for sexual purposes and so on with
penalties ranging from three months to 10 years in prison.
The occupational safety act stipulates that firms employing
minors against the provisions of this law shall be fined HRK
10,000 to 40,000.

-Have these enforcement provisions been applied?

Yes. According to the ministry of interior, during the
period January 1, 2000 - December 31, 2002, 76 cases of
criminal acts against children that relate to the worst forms
of child labor pursuant to the convention were detected and
reported. 70 criminal acts had to do with child and minor
abuse in pornography, four criminal acts related to slavery
and the transport of slaves, two criminal acts of
international prostitution.

From January 2002 - April 2003, labor inspectors found that
five minors (all male), ages 16-17, illegally performing work
under special circumstances. There were four persons in
bakeries and one transporting timber from the forest. Labor
inspectors ordered the employer to dismiss the minors and
filed a complaint against the employer in misdemeanor court.
Misdemeanor courts fined the employers HRK 10,000 (about USD
1600) in one and HRK 1,000 in the other case.

From January 2002 until April 2003, labor inspectors found
117 violations of the legal provisions (99 minors) in
businesses of hospitality (catering), trade, industry and
construction and the minors worked as waiters, salesmen,
bakers and helper construction laborers. Out of 99 persons,
65 were female and 34 male. Employers were issued orders to
refrain from employing minors for night work and inspectors
filed requests for initiation of the legal proceedings
against all employers that acted against the provisions of
the law.

C) Has Croatia established formal institutional mechanisms to
investigate and address complaints relating to the worst
forms of child labor?

Indicators:

-Has the government designated an authority to implement and
enforce child labor laws and regulations?

Yes. The State Inspectorate is the government agency
empowered to conduct on site investigations and ensure
implementation of employment regulations. Labor inspectors
have the authority to issue orders to employers to either
assign minors to different, appropriate jobs or dismiss them
from work according to the labor law. Labor inspectors can
file request with courts to initiate legal proceedings
against employers they find to be in violation of law. The
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has been designated as
the national focal point for prevention of child abuse.

-What are the mechanisms for receiving, investigating and
addressing child labor complaints? To what extent are
complaints investigated and violations addressed?

The Ombudsman for children is responsible for coordinating,
promoting and protecting rights of children. The Ombudsman
monitors the implementation of all regulations related to
children rights pursuant to the constitution, convention on
children rights and other international documents related to
rights of children. The office has the authority to propose
measures to bodies of state government, local and regional
self-government, legal and physical persons how to undertake
measures to prevent violations. The Ombudsman can initiate
regulatory changes to ensure protection of rights.

-What level of resources does the government devote to
investigating exploitative child labor cases throughout
Croatia?

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the
GOC allocates funding from the state budget for projects
aimed at protection of children from abuse and neglect,
including projects which are carried out by NGOs and
individuals (hot line, shelters, advisories)

-How many child labor inspections and investigations have
been conducted over the past year? How many have resulted in
fines, penalties or convictions?

(see above)

-Has the government provided awareness raising and/or
training activities for government officials charged with
enforcing child labor laws?

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare conducts seminars
and workshops to update employees and other inspectors on
changes in legislation.

D) Have social programs been implemented to prevent the
engagement of children in the worst forms of child labor, and
to assist in removing children engaged in the worst forms of
child labor?

Indicators:

-What initiatives has the government supported to prevent
children from entering exploitative work situations, to
withdraw children engaged in such labor, and to advocate on
behalf of children involved in such employment and their
families?

The national program for demographic development and the
national employment policy deal both directly or indirectly
with issues of child protection.

-Does the government support programs to promote children's
access to primary schooling and to enhance the quality and
relevance of schooling?


-Do Croatia's laws/regulations call for universal or
compulsory education? Are these requirements enforced?

Primary education is mandatory. Parents must enroll their
children to a primary school otherwise the law on elementary
school education stipulates fines from HRK 60-300.

According to Croatia's center for research and development of
education, the primary enrollment rate in 1998 was 95%. (up
from 87.1% in 1996 and 82.3% in 1994, as reported by the
USDOL).

E) Does Croatia have a comprehensive policy aimed at the
elimination of the worst forms of child labor?

Indicators:

-Does Croatia have a comprehensive policy or national program
of action on child labor?

Croatia has a national program of action for children, which
also covers the issue of child labor. This program is
currently being audited with the objective of ensuring
operational implementation of the envisaged goals. In order
to ensure better implementation of the goals set under the
national action program on children, the Croatian government
created the National Council for Children -- a group of state
and local institutions that promote general children's rights
issues.

-Has the government made a public statement/commitment to
eradicate the worst forms of child labor?

No.

End post response.
FRANK


NNNN

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