Office of the Ombudswoman

2013 – 2021

“Providing support for the most vulnerable members of our society shouldn’t be seen as financial burden, but an investment into combating poverty and inequality.”

Lora Vidović
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citizens contacted the Office

we opened

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cases based on complaints or on our own initiative

we issued

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recommendations in our reports to the Croatian Parliament

we visited

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cities, municipalities and villages as part of our field work

“Every responsible government with a focus on protecting its citizens and achieving the advancement of the society will give serious thought to our recommendations. They are the basis for change, a starting point for further discussion. It does not matter whether the solution chosen to solve the citizens’ problems ends up being the one we suggested or a different one – as long as the problems get actually solved and the citizens protected.
That is our only goal."

Examples of the improvements achieved

The role of our institution is to foster the change for the better in the lives of individuals, communities and the society as a whole. Below are some the examples of such changes. 

Donations of food to everyone who needs them were made possible after the definition of the final beneficiaries was changed and the scope of this group widened, following our comments on the Agriculture Act.

Based on our repeated recommendations the citizens unable to cover their water utility bill were guaranteed a minimal amount of water that must be provided to them, and the terms and conditions for the termination or limitations to the delivery of water were defined as well.

After our comments on the Act on the Protection from Domestic Violence in which we stressed that the elderly need to be recognized as an especially vulnerable group were implemented, the protection of the elderly from domestic violence was strengthened and their neglect was listed as a misdemeanour in the Act for the first time.

Following our recommendation, social service providers, their employees and the members of their families were banned from concluding maintenance-until-death/for-life contracts. This is an important protection tool for the elderly from the misuse of such contracts.

Nine police officers employed in the Vukovarsko-Srijemska police administration contacted us after the Ministry of the Interior revoked their statuses as Volunteers of the Homeland War. Their statuses were restored following the recommendation we issued to the Ministry after having conducted an investigation procedure.

Following our recommendations in several cases, local self-government units provided their citizens with apartments from the social housing programme – for example, a single mother and her child, a family with a sick child and a Roma family with a large number of children who previously lived in a homeless shelter.

Following our actions, several citizens were able to realise the right to housing or its realisation was significantly accelerated. Some of the citizens had been waiting for ten or more years to be able to realise this right.

Students’ rights stemming from compulsory health insurance are no longer dependent on their age. Based on our recommendations, those rights can now be exercised by all full-time students under the same conditions and this group of citizens is now protected from age-based discrimination in this area.

Following our analysis of job adverts we acted on numerous ads containing discriminatory age and property-related criteria, after which such criteria were removed.

The city of Velika Gorica temporarily postponed an eviction of a family with children following our recommendation to take into account the family’s current life circumstances.

Following a new systematisation of work in a company, the workers at direct risk for becoming disabled were placed in a less favourable position compared to the others. Based on our recommendations the company:
- revised their employment contracts
- created measures to provide training for this category of workers so that they could be appointed to positions with similar salaries they were earning before the new systematisation
- undertook other measures to reverse the negative impacts of the new systematisation on these workers.

In line with our recommendation the General Conditions for Gas Delivery were amended, making it obligatory for the gas supplier companies to issue a written warning to the citizens failing to pay their gas utility bills and to order them to pay within a period of at least ten days. If the debtor is a household, the warning must contain clear information regarding the manner in which customers having difficulty with covering their bills can obtain advice free of charge on the possibilities to settle their debt, as well as on the ways to achieve the optimal level of gas consumption.

Based on the recommendations we issued regarding the amendments to the Social Welfare Act, the amounts of support benefit and of the guaranteed minimum allowance for a single person were increased.

After our involvement in the case, a pensioner stopped receiving double utility bills for the same apartment, for which it was unclear whether it was owned by the state or by the city.

The high degree of the citizens' distrust of the institutions certainly doesn’t help and, in a way, also undermines the rule of law. If you don’t trust any of the competent bodies’ decisions and if you believe that anything you wish to accomplish must be done by using personal connections or the media, it causes inequality before the law.

The citizens’ experiences

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your intervention and the letter you sent to the Croatian Employment Service regarding the subsidies payments for April and May 2020. Personally, I believe it was your inquiry that contributed to the realisation of the payments. It, so to speak, “prolonged our existence”.“
Vesna
(Member of civil society organisations working with kindergarten-aged children to which subsides were paid after we contacted the Croatian Employment Service. It revised its decision, concluded that the complainants meet all of the conditions for the subsidies and made the payments.)
“I printed out your letter and placed it in a visible place in my room so I could see it all the time. You must be wondering why?! Your reply was so energetic, heartfelt and motivational it made me feel exactly that way – lively, energetic, fully motivated, agile. I even stopped crying.”
Lana
(Works in a low-paid sector because she is unable to find work in her profession. We were not authorised to act in her case, but we provided her with addresses she can contact to assist her with finding a job within her profession and those that can provide her with psychological support.)
"After having received your letter today I wish to thank the Ombudswoman, the Deputy Ombudswoman and the entire staff for working on my case regarding the Police Academy. Thank you for your conscientious and determined work to help us, the citizens, and for understanding our problems."
Karlo
(Wants to become a police officer. He submitted a complaint to us after not being admitted to the Police Academy despite meeting all of the set criteria, for which we requested an explanation from the Academy. The investigation procedure is ongoing.)
"According to the information I have received, thanks to your letter the inspectorate did its job. Thank you so much because without your involvement this matter would never have been settled."
Jagoda
(Contacted us after not having received information from the inspectorate regarding her complaint against her previous employer.)
“I would like to thank you sincerely in the name of all of us whose severely ill and immobile family members reside in the homes for the elderly. Thanks to your efforts, the visits are allowed once a week now. I don’t even have to tell you how much it means to us in these difficult times."
Danica
(Daughter of an immobile resident of a home for Older persons. She was not able to see her mother due to the fact that visits were only allowed in the yard and her mother was unable to leave the building.)
“I would like to thank you in my name and also in the name of the entire population of this area for your successful work. For thirteen years all that we, 22 families, could see from our windows was rubble. Now we can see open space and the nearby trees and we hope green spaces will appear here again. Your work has shown how important the ombudsman institution is for the citizens and it commends our trust."
Kützora
(Contacted us because construction waste and other types of waste were disposed in an area registered as a forest.)
“Thank you again, immensely, for your effort and determination in helping me solve my housing issues."
Milen
(Disabled Homeland War veteran whose case we worked on for four years.)
“On Friday the water supply company connected my uncle to the water supply system again. I cannot thank you and your staff enough for your effort. We don’t have enough words to express our gratitude."
Dubravka
(Niece of a 94 year old man who was disconnected from the water supply system due to unresolved property issues.)
"Thank you for all of your effort and your serious approach to each of the cases. You are the only ones who have not let me down!"
Sadika
(Contacted us regarding her civil service employment status.)
“After your visit to our village and after discussing with you ours, as well as the entire island’s, issues and following our written correspondence, we got the impression that things have started to move forward and we hope that the institutions in charge with island development will switch from verbal promises to their actual realisation.”
Meri
(We met her during our field visit to the Zadar County when we discussed with her and her neighbours various issues they are facing on their island.)
“As the saying goes – justice is slow but attainable. Only now can I attest to this. At the moment I contacted your office I was a broken woman, I did not believe there was a solution to my situation. Thank you both in my name, as well as in the name of my children.”
Vera
(Waited for more than 10 years for her housing situation to be resolved.)
“I would like to thank you in my name and in my neighbours’ name for the work done! The waste has been removed! We can breathe the air free from printer cartridges’ smell and without fear of a fire getting started!”
Ana
(Contacted us in the name of several citizens due to waste being disposed in their neighbourhood.)

The basic goal of the field visits is to gather first-hand information about the actual problems, so that we can contribute to their resolving and the improvement of the quality of life of the citizens in a particular region of the country.

Field work

Our accessibility to the citizens

A problem cannot be resolved if no one is aware of it

One of our main objectives is to inform as many citizens as possible about our work and the ways in which they can contact us. With that goal in mind we:

The number of the citizens of the Republic of Croatia acquainted with the work of the ombudsman institution surpasses the EU average

(79% CRO vs. 68% EU average)

Openness and communication are extremely important tools for encouraging the citizens to report issues and for advocating for the solutions that can contribute to positive change.

Did you know?

The Ombudswoman

„Human rights is a term that has been iterated so many times that many people have probably started taking it for granted. They, however, are an inseparable part of our everyday lives – our rights can be violated on the street, in school, on Facebook, at home, at the doctor’s office – anywhere, really. And if we keep silent about that, it leaves an open space for those that have violated our rights to keep doing it. Today they hurt us, and tomorrow they might do it to someone else, too.“

Lora Vidović

Deputy Ombudswomen

Lidija Lukina Kezić

Tena Šimonović Einwalter

Maja Kević

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