Search

 

Cablegate: Minorities Make Progress; More Work to Be Done

VZCZCXRO0085
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #1333/01 3100626
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 060626Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6877
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 001333

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID PHUM HR
SUBJECT: MINORITIES MAKE PROGRESS; MORE WORK TO BE DONE


1. SUMMARY AND COMMENT: A survey of minority legal and cultural
rights conducted by a Croatian Serb NGO shows that Croatia has a
good legal framework in place but that implementation, especially on
the local level and in "war affected areas" lags behind the legal
ideal. Presenting the findings of its USAID-funded survey at an
October 31 conference, the Serb Democratic Forum (SDF) cited
significant progress made in the eleven years since hostilities
ceased, but pointed to a number of problem areas in minority
employment and political representation at local levels. COMMENT:
Croatia's Constitutional Law on National Minorities was hailed as a
milestone when passed in 2002; unfortunately its unwieldy structures
and lack of clarity result in poor implementation due to a lack of
related laws at the local level. In addition, its suggested "quotas"
for minority employment in the already bloated public sector are
unlikely to be met when the EU and others are calling for reducing
budget deficits and state structures. Finally, there is no legal
obligation on the part of local governments to finance minority
councils, reducing their operational capabilities. Despite the legal
framework and high-level political commitment to tolerance,
discrimination against ethnic minorities is likely to persist at
local levels in poorer parts of the country. END SUMMARY AND
COMMENT

GOOD LAW; SPOTTY IMPLEMENTATION
-------------------------------

2. Although the Croatian parliament passed a model "Constitutional
Law on National Minorities" (CLNM) guaranteeing political and
cultural rights to ethnic groups in Croatia in 2002, anecdotal
evidence suggested that implementation had lagged. (Ethnic
minorities represent a small fraction of the heavily Croatian and
Roman Catholic population: Serb 4.5%, Muslim 1%, and assorted
Hungarians, Czechs, Roma and others, 5%.) With USAID financial
assistance, the Serb Democratic Forum (SDF), a Croatian NGO
representing ethnic Serbs, conducted a survey on the establishment
of self-government and equal access to employment in the public
sector. The SDF presented the survey's finding at a well-attended
conference held October 31. Participants included the President of
the Government's Council for National Minorities, the President of
the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Rights of National
Minorities, head of the Government Office for Human Rights, USAID
Mission Director William Jeffers, and a number of MPs, NGO
representatives and diplomats.

3. Many participants at the conference criticized the overall
effectiveness of the CLNM due to a lack of sub-laws necessary for
its successful implementation at the local level. Participants
complained that ethnic Serb MPs had failed to advocate vigorously
for the required sub laws. Participants expressed the belief that
there is simply a general lack of political will at middle and lower
political levels to fully implement the CLNM.

INADEQUATE MINORITY REPRESENTATION IN PUBLIC SECTOR
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. The SDF survey found that the CLNM's provision on proportional
minority employment in the public sector in places where a minority
comprises at least 15 percent of the population remains largely
unimplemented. In several central Croatian regions where a
significant percentage of Serbs live, for example, the report found
that Serbs comprised 22 percent of the population but made up only
three percent of public administration employees. In the Dalmatian
hinterlands, Serbs comprise 13 percent of the population but only 4
percent of public employees. The situation was significantly better
only in Eastern Slavonia where Serbs were adequately represented in
the police and only slightly underrepresented in judiciary. However,
even in eastern Slavonia overall employment in state administration
remained low: While Serbs represent 51 percent of the population in
eastern Slavonia, they only comprised only 26 percent of state
administration.

MINORITY COUNCILS ONLY PARTIALLY FUNCTIONAL
--------------------------------------------- --------

5. Minority Councils under the CLNM serve only in an advisory role
to articulate minority interests to local government and NGOs. Under
the current framework, local governments have no legal obligation to
finance them, resulting in varying levels of funding from county to
county. One senior level advisor to a Serbian MP informed PolOff
that the lack of adequate funding seriously hampers the ability of
Minority Councils to effectively function. (COMMENT: However, the
same staffer admitted that mandatory financing of the councils is
not/not a legislative priority of the Serb party. END COMMENT)

CULTURAL RIGHTS GENERALLY EXERCISED EASILY
------------------------------------------

6. While minority Serbs and Czechs occasionally encounter problems
when attempting to use minority language and symbols, the general
position of minorities today is far better than it was ten years
ago. Hate speech by the media and politicians has significantly
declined over the past decade.


ZAGREB 00001333 002 OF 002


BRADTKE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>