CROATIA: National Laws

Summary: General overview of Croatia's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children's rights

Status of CRC in national law

According to article 140 of the Constitution of Croatia, international agreements concluded, ratified and published in accordance with the Constitution are part of the national legal system and take precedence over the domestic laws. The Convention on the Rights of the Child can, therefore, be directly applied by the courts. If there were a contradiction between the provisions of the Convention and national law, the Convention would be applied. 

Constitution: the Constitution of Croatia includes a number of provisions that directly address the rights of children:

  • Article 14: provides for equal rights and freedoms on grounds including birth or social origin.

  • Art. 45(1): states that a citizen of Croatia may exercise his or her rights and duties in full from the age of 18.

  • Art. 57: provides that rights in connection with childbirth, maternity and child care shall be regulated by law.

  • Art. 58: requires the State to devote special care and protection to the children of fallen Croatian war veterans.

  • Art. 62: provides that the family shall enjoy the special protection of the State.

  • Art. 63: requires the state to protect maternity, children and youth, and create social, cultural, educational, material and other conditions promoting the achievement of the right to a suitable life.

  • Art. 64(1): establishes that parents shall bear responsibility for the upbringing, welfare and education of their children,and shall have the right and freedom to make independent decisions concerning theupbringing of their children.

  • Art. 64(2): provides that parents are responsible for ensuring the right of children to full and harmonious development of their personalities.

  • Art. 64(3): guarantees special care, education and welfare for children with disabilities, socially neglected children and children with mental health problems.

  • Art. 64(4): obliges children to take care of their elderly and infirm parents.

  • Art. 65: provides that everyone shall have a duty to protect children; that children shall not be employed before reaching the age specified by law, nor forced or allowed to do any work which is harmful to their health or morality; and creates a special protection at workplaces for young people, mothers and disabled persons.

  • Art. 66: establishes a right to education for everyone and guarantees free and compulsory education.

  • Article 135(1): places the responsibility for child care and education within the remit of local and regional government.

Legislation: the Family Act contains many of the provisions of relevance to children, but relevant provisions can also be found in a number of other Acts. Such legislation includes, but is by no means limited to:

  • The Family Act (Official Gazette, No. 116/03)

  • The Act on Juvenile Courts (Official Gazette, No. 111/97)

  • The Criminal Code (Official Gazette, No 105/04)

  • The Act on Criminal Procedure (Official Gazette, No. 62/03)

  • The Act on the Protection Against Family Violence (Official Gazette, No. 1l6/03)

  • The Act on Children's Allowance (Official Gazette, No. 94/01)

  • The Act on Maternity and Parental Benefits (Official Gazette, No. 85/08)

  • The Act on Compulsory Health Insurance (Official Gazette, No.150/08)

  • The Act on Social Welfare (Official Gazette, No. 73/97)

  • The Act on Foster Care (Official GazetteNo. 90/11)

  • The Act on the Amendments to the Act on the Pre-School Education (Official Gazette, No.10/97)

  • The Act on Primary and Secondary Education (Official Gazette, No.69/03)

  • The Act on Vocational Education (Official Gazette, No.17/07)

  • The Labour Act (Official Gazette, No. 38/95)

  • The Misdemeanours Act (Official Gazette, No. 88/02)

  • The Act on the Protection of the Mentally Disturbed Persons (Official Gazette, No. 111/97)

  • The Act on the Suppression of Drug Abuse (Official Gazette, No. 107/01)

  • The Act on the Ombudsman for Children (Official Gazette, No. 96/03)

Legal Research
The Parliament of Croatia (the Sabor) maintains a website in English ( with a range of legal resources, including a database of legislation. The Constitution is available through the same database ( A selection of legislation is available in English through the International Labour Organisation website, NATLEX ( and the World Law Guide website ( In addition, the GlobaLex project at New York University has published a guide to legal research in Croatia, and the U.S. Library of Congress ( and World Legal Information Institute ( both provide access to a selection of legal and governmental resources. 

Case law
CRC Jurisprudence
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been cited in Croatian courts, including in relation to a case regarding the best interests of the child in parental access cases (

Case Law research
The website of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia (
Vrhovni sud Republike Hrvatske) has limited legal information in English, and publishes case law in Croatian ( The judgments of the Constitutional Court are available in English and Croatian through the Court's website (

Compliance with the CRC

In its Concluding Observations of 2004, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed a number of legislative developments, including the amendments to Family Act, the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Act. The Committee also welcomed reforms to the Juvenile Court Act but expressed concern that some of the recommendations made in previous Observations had not been addressed and at the failure to effectively implement legislation relevant to the Convention.

In depth analysis

The Committee expressed a number of more specific concerns in its Concluding Observations, including with regards to the juvenile justice system. The Committee was critical of the lack of proper training for professionals working with children in conflict with the law; the low quality of juvenile justice institutions; reports of incidents of violence in detention centres; and the practice of detaining persons below 18 with adults as old as 27. The corresponding recommendations focused on ensuring that deprivation of liberty is only used as a measure of last resort for the shortest possible time; ensuring that children are not detained with adults; improving conditions in places of detention; and undertaking training for all professionals involved in the juvenile justice system.

The Committee also noted the large number of refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Croatia, most of whom were children, and expressed concern that return was hindered by administrative impediments and the attitudes of national and local officials. The Committee also expressed concern about the difficulties faced by refugee and internally displaced children in accessing education and health care, and urged the State to ensure the effective implementation of the new Asylum Law.

With regards to the related issue of citizenship rights, the Committee expressed concern that the different types of access to citizenship within Croatian law may negatively affect children from minority groups, especially Roma children. The Committee urged the State to ensure that all provisions within the Law on Citizenship are brought into line with the Convention's provisions on rights to a name and nationality and the principle of non-discrimination.

Current legal reform projects
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any current law reform projects.



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