Cablegate: Update of Worst Forms of Child Labor: Croatia

DE RUEHVB #1049/01 3341208
R 301208Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF STATE 149663 AND 158223

1. Summary: Child labor is not a significant problem in Croatia.
Croatia has a strong institutional and legal framework for
protecting the rights of minors and a good track record of taking
action to prevent child labor. Problems are isolated and infrequent
and are addressed effectively by authorities. End Summary.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

2. Croatian Labor Law sets the minimum age for employment at 15
years; children ages 15 to 18 may work only with written permission
from a legal guardian. Children under 15 may work or participate in
artistic or entertainment functions (such as film productions) with
permission from the parent or guardian and the Labor Inspectorate,
provided that the work is not harmful to the child's health,
morality, education, or development. The Ministry of Economy,
Labor, and Entrepreneurship (MELE) enforces the minimum age of
employment. 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 might be harmful to a child's
health, morality, or development. Minors under age 18 are expressly
prohibited from working in bars, nightclubs, and gambling
establishments. The Family Law contains provisions for the
protection of the rights and welfare of children. The Children's
Ombudsman coordinates government efforts to promote and protect the
interests of children and is obliged to report any findings of
exploitation to the State Attorney's Office. The Constitution
prohibits forced or bonded labor, and the Criminal Code bans
individuals from forcing children to beg. Croatia ratified ILO
Convention 182 (Prohibition and Immediate Action for Elimination of
the Worst Forms of Child Labor) in 2001 and Convention 138 (Minimum
Age for Admission to Employment) in 2002. In addition, the GoC also
adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography. Military conscription has been abolished effective
January 1, 2008.

3. The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different
statutes in Croatia. The Criminal Code outlaws international
prostitution, including solicitation of a minor, and prohibits
procurement of minors for sexual purposes, prescribing one to ten
years of imprisonment for violations. The law also forbids using
children for pornography and prescribes one to five years of
imprisonment for violations. Article 178 (1) of the Criminal Code
indicates that international prostitution pertains to "[w]hoever
tempts, recruits or instigates the other person to provide sexual
services for profit in a country other than the one of whose
residence or citizenship that person is," and Article 178 (2)
indicates, "[w]ho compels another person by using physical force, or
induces that person using threats, or by deceit to go to a country
other than the country of that person's residence or citizenship, to
provide sexual services for money..." In July 2004, the Criminal
Code was amended, introducing Trafficking of Persons and Slavery as
a separate criminal act with a minimum prison sentence of five years
when a child or a minor is involved (this provision went into force
as of October 1, 2004). In 2006, changes to the same provision
provide for imprisonment of 3 months to 3 years for perpetrators who
knowingly use TIP victims. Amendments to the Criminal Code in 2006
strengthened the legal framework for abuse of children or minors for
pornography, including Internet pornography.

Implementation and Enforcement

4. The Labor Inspectorate of Croatia implements and enforces child
labor legislation. The office employs 102 inspectors, who are
responsible for enforcing labor laws and regulations. Special
attention is paid to the employment of minors. In addition to
following up on complaints of possible violations, the Inspectorate
also conducts unannounced site inspections. In 2006, the Labor
Inspectorate ordered the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of
Health and Social Welfare to search for and process violators more
stringently and called for better cooperation between social
agencies and police. In a separate decision, the GoC ordered the
Labor Inspectorate to increase inspections of establishments that
employ minors. (See paragraph 18 for data).

5. Legal remedies available to government agencies for enforcing
child labor laws are regulated by the following:
-Labor law;
-Regulation on work for which minors may be employed and types of
employment allowed only after confirmation of physical ability
(published in National gazette 59/02);
-Law on Work Safety;

ZAGREB 00001049 002 OF 004

-Criminal Law;
-Law on Children's Ombudsmen;
-Law on Legal Defense;
-Law on Elementary Education
-Law on Juvenile Courts;
-National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of
Children 2006-2012;
-National Plan for the Suppression of Trafficking of Children

6. Fines for violating child labor laws range from 1,000 HRK ($200)
to 100,000 ($20,000), depending upon the gravity of the violation.
According to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, the
regulations are, for the most part, adequate and effective, but work
continues on new regulations to increase the effectiveness of
protecting children's rights. In 2006, amendments to the Criminal
Law included increased minimum fines for violations as well as
increased jail sentences for crimes in connection with sexual abuse
of minors, abuse of children or minors for pornography and child
Internet pornography.
The amendments were intended to send a stronger message to the
public, particularly since the courts have frequently been lenient
towards offenders.

7. Croatia has reached general global standards in regard to
addressing and investigating violations. The National Program for
the Protection of the Best Interests of Children (2006 -2012)
includes proposals for developing legislation that regulates the
types of work and employment of children to further protect children
from economic exploitation and employment that could be harmful to
their development and health.

8. Increasing education and awareness of the problems of child labor
and other children's issues is done in accordance with the laws and
national plans. In 2006, judges were educated about the changes in
the courts' authority in application of the Family Law. A
representative of the NGO Djeca Prva said, however, that regardless
of the existing National Plans, Croatian society needs to be further
sensitized to children's rights in order for violations to be

9. The National Plan for Suppressing Trafficking of Children
includes a protocol for the exchange of information between
authorities in cases of trafficking, publication of a handbook for
police officers and social service workers for recognizing
threatening situations and for the creation of databases that would
include child victims and current court cases. The Children's
Council of the State Institute for the Protection of the Family
monitors and promotes the application of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.

Social programs and government initiatives
10. The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport offers high
schools a choice of 15 prevention programs, one of which covers the
economic exploitation of children. Each school picks the programs
that address problems faced by children in their communities. A
Ministry of Education official stated that, because exploitation of
children for economic purposes is not statistically high in Croatia
and is not currently seen as a threat, the topic is covered, but the
schools do not usually include the program that covers this issue.
According to representatives of UNICEF and Djeca Prva, there are no
programs currently offered for preventing the worst forms of child
labor outside of the scope of the activities provided for under the
National Action Plan for Children and the National Plan of
Suppressing Trafficking (See paragraph 14). Representatives from
both organizations said this is not a problem they directly cover,
nor is it a prominently reported problem; however, both stated that
statistics are lacking. NGO Djeca Prava offers programs to educate
children to be assertive and to recognize their right to say "No"
while, at the same time, educating adults on a child's rights to
refuse. NGOs have undertaken such programs because they feel that
Croatian society, as a whole, needs to be enlightened on the entire
field of children's rights. In February 2007, Croatia adopted the
Youth Council Act which aims to promote the participation of young
people in public life.

11. Based on the Convention on Children's rights and the
Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, every child living in
Croatia is guaranteed and obligated to receive an education. In
June 2007, the Government passed a National Plan for Measures of
Introducing Mandatory High School Education which will take effect
in 2008. According to official statistics from the Ministry of
Science, Education and Sport, in 2007 school enrollment was at
nearly 100 per cent. In accordance with the decision of a special
committee, less than one per cent of school-aged children did not
enroll because of psycho-physical problems. Ninety-eight per cent of
students complete elementary school. Enrollment statistics are

ZAGREB 00001049 003 OF 004

based on the number of students formally registered in primary
school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school
attendance. Recent primary school attendance statistics are not
available. According to the Ombudswoman for Children, the conditions
for universal education exist in Croatia.

12. Currently, the education system provides special schooling for
children with special needs in order to prepare them for work in the
trades sector. The education system also provides vocational
education at the high school level for all students interested in
learning a trade.

13. Statistics show that ethnic Roma children in Croatia face
greater obstacles in education than the population at large.
Discrimination and poverty are factors, but so too are social
pressures that often lead Roma parents to take their children out of
school for work. Estimates are that only 10 percent of Roma
children graduate from secondary school, while up to 39 percent are
illiterate. According to a survey financed by the UN Development
Program (UNDP) in 2005, only 17 percent of Roma children over the
age of 12 completed primary education, compared to 74 percent of the
non-Roma population living close to Roma settlements. However, there
are also some positive trends. In the last two years, the number of
Roma children included in pre-school education programs has
increased from 345 to 707, while the number of those attending
primary school has tripled from 1,013 to 3,010. The Office for
National Minorities has a special program for the inclusion of Roma
children in the education system. Croatia also initiated a program
called the "Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015" to better document
and aid the Roma minority community.

Government Initiatives

14. The Ministry of Family, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational
Solidarity developed the National Program for the Protection of the
Best Interests of Children for 2006-2012, which provides preventive
and protective measures for children with regard to all types of
sexual abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation. In 2004,
the government adopted a National Strategy for the Suppression of
Trafficking in Persons from 2005 to 2008 and Operational Plans for
the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons for 2005, 2006 and 2007.
In October 2007, the GoC signed the Council of Europe Convention on
the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual

15. The trafficking operational plans call for the implementation of
all goals and objectives that are listed in the National Program for
the Suppression of Trafficking from 2005 to 2008, as follows:
legislative framework, identification of the victims, prosecution
and penalization of perpetrators, prevention, education and help and
assistance to the victims, inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral
cooperation and international cooperation. Police screen all
illegal migrants for TIP evidence. Local social welfare centers
provide assistance to all minor TIP victims. Croatia has
legislation in place that establishes special procedures for cases
where victims or perpetrators are minors. The government also
established a shelter specifically for minor victims of trafficking;
IOM provides assistance and support to victims. The government also
conducted in-service police training on trafficking-recognition,
funded a national hotline for victims of trafficking and
anti-trafficking awareness campaigns, and co-sponsored with several
NGOs a number of prevention programs on the trafficking of persons.

16. In June 2004, a working group on child trafficking was
established. The GoC adopted the National Plan for the Suppression
of Trafficking in Children from 2005 - 2007, which also covers areas
already mentioned in the GOC National Programs and Operational
Plans. The National Plan for Children takes into consideration
special needs of children and is based on principles from the UN
Convention on the Rights of Children. In 2006 the GoC organized and
funded training in cooperation with local NGOs that targeted social
workers in reception centers responsible for assistance and
protection of illegal minor migrants. The Child Trafficking
Prevention Program is implemented by the Center for Social Policy
Initiatives, a national NGO, in partnership with the Ministry of
Labor and Social Welfare, the Ministry of the Interior, and IOM.
Modules have been developed on child trafficking, child
exploitation, sexual exploitation of children, child pornography,
and the worst forms of child labor. Teachers have been trained to
use the program, and a pilot project is underway in five elementary
schools in Zagreb. The government also works with international
organizations to assist trafficking victims and cooperates with
other governments in the region. Croatia also participated in a
regional program implemented by ILO-IPEC on combating child labor in
the Stability Pact Countries, with a special focus on the worst
forms of child labor.

ZAGREB 00001049 004 OF 004

Recent Data

17. Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in
Croatia are unavailable. Children are employed in the hospitality,
retail, industrial, construction, and media (film and reality
television) sectors. Roma children reportedly are being forced to
beg and are also vulnerable in the agricultural sector.

18. The most recent data available for the worst forms of child
labor are for 2006 and include the conviction of seven persons for
exploiting children for pornography and one conviction for internet
child pornography. For 2006, the Labor Inspectorate reported 48
inspections, during which a total of 130 violations of child labor
related legislation were discovered involving 59 minors. Employers
in the fields of hospitality, tourism, retail, industry (bakeries),
construction and trades services were inspected. Minors (between
the ages of 15-17) were found working as waiters and assistant
waiters (35 minors, 6 male and 30 female), a hairdresser (female),
cooks (1 male, 3 females), a kitchen assistant (female), bakers (4
males), salespeople (1 males, 4 females), assistant construction
workers (2 males), scaffolding builders (2 males), a porter, a
newspaper vendor (1 male), an agriculture laborer (1 male), and a
pastry maker (1 female). The violations include the employers
withholding work contracts, not being in possession of individual
permission for employing minors, not granting proper break times
(daily and weekly), endangering the health of a minor, employing a
minor under the age of 15, keeping minors over-time, scheduling
minors to work during night hours and not properly registering
minors for health and pension benefits.

19. According to analysis of violations during this and previous
years, the Labor Inspectorate has determined that violation of
children's rights in employment is not a common occurrence. Embassy
Zagreb's conversations with government officials and NGOs support
the conclusion that the worst forms of child labor are extremely
rare in Croatia and that the state mechanisms to address them are

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