Campaigns and activities
Although Croatia is one of the first countries to sign and ratify the UNCRPD (signed 30 March 2007; ratified 15 August 2007), Croatian Blind Union cannot be fully content with the level of commitment from the public administration and political authorities to fully implement the CRPD. Also, the approach and involvement to implementation of the CRPD varies across different fields of social, economic, cultural and political life. For example, much has been achieved in regard to adapting the law concerning incentives in employment of persons with disabilities, while weak or almost no change is visible in the field of disability allowance for persons with disabilities, which they need in order to compensate for the higher expenses of living due to their disability. As an excuse for postponing this necessary action, the authorities in the field of social welfare are using poor economic situation in the country.
Focal Points to the CRPD within government have been designated to act as a contact both internationally and nationally. These are the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth (former Ministry of Family, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity): www.mspm.hr/djelokrug_aktivnosti/osobe_s_invaliditetom/zakonodavni_okvir), Committee for Persons with Disabilities and Disability Ombudsman: www.posi.hr/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=128&Itemid=191)
The role of Focal Points is to advise the Government when drafting legislation or regulations, policies or action plans, and to assess their impact on people with disabilities.
According to the first Monitoring Report delivered to the United Nations in October 2011, the coordinating role is jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth (former Ministry of Family, Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity) and the Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
However, there has been institutional confusion regarding the roles and duties of different ministries in implementation of the CRPD. This is partly due to nature of the Convention itself which cuts across sectors and applies to various spheres of life (ranging from access to public spaces and buildings to access to technologies, products and services related to the information society and social communication media, education, health, transport etc.), which requires expertise in various fields and an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, in reality due to the lack of substantive capacity in these various fields the focal point often falls short of keeping up with the CRPD implementation process and responsibility is delegated and shifted elsewhere, often resulting in standstill. The result is a worrying picture that shows how the lack of clarity and consequently accountability in this context leads to further delays in implementation of the CRPD and to deteriorated condition of persons with disabilities in society.
Several structures are assigned to promote the CRPD:
The implementation of the CRPD is integrated within the National policy and strategies for persons with disabilities and can be called upon at any trial before the judicial or administrative courts and tribunals. If any private individual or body corporate refers a case to the Disability Ombudsman, it may make recommendations to the Croatian Parliament i.e. the Government which may be published in the Official Gazette; it may also, if it considers it necessary, intervene before a court to give an opinion on the points of law referred to during the trial.
In Croatia, the Disability Ombudsman and Committee for Persons with Disabilities are in charge of monitoring the implementation of the CRPD and for making recommendations to the Croatian Parliament / Government. This Committee has 24 members: 11 are representatives of state bodies, 11 representatives of national unions of persons with disabilities and 2 representatives of scientific institutions. Of these, six are persons with disabilities.
The Committee has met several times, on September 23rd and December 12th 2013 and in March 2014. Unfortunately, the results do not truly meet the expectations of the associations of persons with disabilities.
In Croatia, the national umbrella association of the blind is the Croatian Blind Union, which covers all of Croatian territory through its 27 core member associations operating on the local level. Representatives of the CBU are members of the Committee for Persons with Disabilities, so they have the opportunity to participate in the process of monitoring the implementation of the CRPD. They are also involved in the process of drafting shadow report regarding implementation of the CRPD in Croatia in cooperation with the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities.
Certain amount of public funds is designated through call for proposals on implementation of projects that have the objective of promoting the implementation of the CRPD.
Croatia has delivered its initial report on progress to the UNCRPD Committee in October 2011, about four years after ratification.
Yes, the associations of persons with disabilities were involved in drafting the shadow report in 2011 in cooperation with the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities and are currently participating in drafting the shadow report with release date in 2014.
Although the Republic of Croatia has been quick to sign and ratify the UNCRPD, translating the clear commitments into practical actions is a different matter in the competitive environment of national policy making and resource allocation. The progress in implementing effective measures to ensure equal opportunities and protection of rights of persons with disabilities in different fields of economic, social, cultural and public life varies considerably.