Human rights in emergency situations – activities during fires and floods
The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, as all emergency situations of similar proportions, such as floods, fires or earthquakes, is inseparable from human rights and Ombudswoman Lora Vidović closely monitores the impact that preventive measures undertaken by Croatian authorities have on them.
During the catastrophic fire that endangered the city of Split in 2017, the Ombudswoman publicly warned about the possible violations of human rights of the affected citizens and brought the weaknesses of the civil protection system to the attention of the authorities, including problems in organising the firefighting system and citizens’ inadequate access to information. In the Annual Report for 2017, she also addressed recommendations to the Government of the Republic of Croatia and other authorities, in order to prevent major fires and respond more efficiently to them in the future.
In addition, after the catastrophic floods that hit the Vukovar-Srijem County in 2014, the Ombudswoman submitted a Special Report to the Croatian Parliament, with multiple recommendations for better preparedness in future crises. This report had been based on the citizens’ complaints, field work in flooded areas and legal analysis, and although it had addressed that specific situation and its consequences, it is valuable for other emergency situations which could affect human rights, in particular right to life or health, access to information or property rights, as well as protection of the environment.
The Ombudswoman’s report on human rights in the context of the flood disaster in the Vukovar-Srijem County in 2014 can be found here (in Croatian only), and the analysis and assessment of the human rights situation during the Split fire, as well as related recommendations, can be found here.