Use of medical reports

Croatia

Country Report: Use of medical reports Last updated: 27/05/21

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In practice evidence is rarely presented by way of medical reports, although the claims of some applicants indicate that it is possible that they have been victims of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment. In most, if not all of the cases where medical reports were provided, this was at the initiative of applicant’s legal advisor. To the knowledge of the Croatian Law Centre, in those few cases in the past medical reports were not based on the methodology laid down in the Istanbul Protocol. The LITP does not explicitly establish the possibility to submit a medical report in the procedure, so in this case the provisions of the Law on General Administrative Procedure are applied. That means that in the procedure, the case worker determines the factual situation using any means suitable as evidence and can for this purpose, among other possibilities, make use of findings and opinions of experts.[1]

However, expert witnesses are not mandatory according to the law, and that is why they are rarely used in practice. Even when applicants mention that they are victims of torture, they are still not referred to a specialist, either during the first instance procedure or even later during the administrative dispute. The other reason is the lack of public funds from the State budget. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior has the possibility to order a medical examination; however, this possibility is not used in practice.

The Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma noted that no appropriate procedures are implemented in relation to documentation and verification, including medico-legal documentation, of victims of torture.[2]

The LITP only introduces the possibility of use of medical records in the age assessment procedure.

In December 2019, the Croatian Law Centre (CLC), in cooperation with UNHCR, organised a panel discussion on the “Expertise in the procedure for granting international protection” which was held at the premises of Faculty of Law in Zagreb. The panel was attended by lawyers, psychologists and medical doctors who are at the same time court expert witnesses and UNHCR staff.

In 2020, CLC organised a training for judges of the Administrative Courts in cooperation with UNHCR. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the training was held online in the form of a webinar in agreement with the Judicial Academy. The topic of the webinar was “”Granting International Protection: Medical expertise in Administrative Procedure and Administrative Dispute”.

 

 

[1]  Article 58(1) Law on General Administrative Procedure.

[2] Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 18 January 2019, 7 February 2021.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation