Special reception needs of vulnerable groups

Croatia

Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 12/01/21

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The LITP enumerates as vulnerable persons: persons without legal capacity, children, unaccompanied children, elderly and infirm persons, seriously ill persons, disabled persons, pregnant women, single parents with minor children, persons with mental disorders and victims of trafficking, as well as  victims of torture, rape or other forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence, such as victims of female genital mutilation.[1] The LITP provides special procedural and reception guarantees (see section on Special Procedural Guarantees).

However, up until now the Ministry of Interior does not have a special unit dealing with vulnerable groups, but accommodates their needs in the general reception system

When accommodating applicants in the Reception Centre, gender, age, position of vulnerable groups, applicants with special reception needs and family unity shall be particularly taken into account.[2] Those with special reception needs may be placed in an appropriate institution or can be accredited to accommodation in accordance with regulations on social welfare, if accommodation appropriate for their needs cannot be provided in the Reception Centre.[3]

The Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions prescribes that reception conditions should be adapted to the needs of applicants, psychosocial support should be provided, and special care should be given to applicants with special reception needs. The process of identifying those with special reception needs should be conducted by professionals who provide psychosocial support in the Reception Centre, and if necessary, the competent Centre for Social Welfare can participate in the assessment. The Centre for Social Welfare involved in the procedure of identifying applicants with special reception needs shall notify the Reception Centre of all measures and actions taken.[4]

Applicants with special health care needs shall be provided a special diet, based on the recommendations of the physician.[5]

There is no monitoring mechanism in place with regards to measures for addressing special needs of applicants accommodated in the centres. However, social workers of the Ministry of Interior and the Croatian Red Cross are available daily in the Reception Centres and can provide support. In practice, during their regular work and communication with applicants as well as during individual and group support, Croatian Red Cross employees can observe the needs of vulnerable groups and, where there is a need, can accordingly propose changes in the reception of particular applicants to the Head of Reception Centre (for example, a person may need to be accommodated in a single room, or with other persons, or may need to be relocated to the Reception Centre in Kutina, which is specifically designed for vulnerable applicants).

The Ministry of Interior, depending on the needs of the applicant, cooperates with other competent bodies in relation to reception guarantees, for example with Centres for Social Welfare which are, when appropriate, included in the procedure for assessing special needs. In the case when adequate accommodation cannot be provided for those persons in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection, a person would be accommodated in another appropriate institution or can be granted accommodation according to the social welfare regulations. Also, when needed, special dietary requirements will be provided based on the recommendation of the competent physician. Applicants accommodated in the Reception Centre are provided with three meals a day and pregnant women, babies and children under the age of 16 are provided with an afternoon snack. Upon recommendation of the doctor, separate accommodation would be provided to those with special reception needs. If needed, they would be provided with appropriate health care related to their specific health condition.[6]

 

Reception of women and children

 

Separate premises are provided in the Reception Centre in Kutina for women and vulnerable groups. Families are kept together, while single women, unaccompanied children and traumatised applicants are accommodated in separate rooms.

MdM implemented a project entitled “Empowering women and children in the migrant population to take action against sexual and gender-based violence – WE ACT”. The project lasted until February 2020. The main objective of the project was the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence faced by children and women. Among other aims, the project was seeking to establish a protocol of conduct intended for the professionals and reception staff who would inform women and children, who are victims of gender-based violence, about their rights and available support.[7]

As mentioned above, in 2019, guidelines on cases involving refugee/migrant children and women victims of sexual violence were developed by MdM. The guidelines are currently under review by the Ministry of Interior and UNHCR.[8]

 

Reception of unaccompanied children

 

With regard to unaccompanied children, the LITP prescribes that the guardian of an unaccompanied child shall undertake all the necessary activities, including contact and cooperation with the competent ministries, other state and foreign bodies, and NGOs, in order to reunite the child with his or her family if this is in the best interests of the child.[9]

In practice, most unaccompanied foreign children up to now are placed in children and young people’s homes. Children under 14 years of age are accommodated in children’s homes, while children above the age of 14 are accommodated in Residential Child Care Institutions.  Although these are open facilities, they are not adapted to the needs of this category of children. Special concerns from various NGOs have been raised in relation to accommodating children in Residential Child Care Institutions as their primary function is to treat children with behavioural difficulties, so the conditions of their stay cannot be considered suitable for this group, especially when taking into account the specific needs of these children, as well as unavailability of interpreters in those institutions.

A Protocol on the treatment of unaccompanied children was adopted in August 2018 (see Identification) which foresees the possibility of accommodation with foster families.

A new Law on Foster Care, which entered into force on 1 January 2019 has opened the possibility for unaccompanied children to be accommodate in the foster families.[10]

 

Reception of victims of torture, violence and trauma

 

No system for early identification of victims of torture or other forms of ill-treatment by competent authorities and professionals has yet been developed. According to the LITP, applicants who need special reception and/or procedural guarantees, especially victims of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, shall be provided with the appropriate health care related to their specific condition or the consequences resulting from the mentioned acts.[11]

However until today in practice the system for addressing the consequences of torture among applicants has not been established. It is also unclear who can get treatment and under which conditions, and who should provide such treatments. This is discussed in detail in Health Care.

 


[1] Article 4(1)(14) LITP.

[2] Article 56(4) LITP; Article 6(1) Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions.

[3] Article 7(3) Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions.

[4] Article 12(1)-(3) Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions.

[5] Article 20(2) Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions.

[6] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[7] Information provided by MdM, 23 December 2018.

[8] Information provided by MdM, 20 January 2020.

[9] Article 10(3) LITP.

[10] Official Gazette 115/2018, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2xP8gh5.

[11]  Article 57(2) LITP.

 

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