BRUSSELS/STRASBOURG – Croatia lacks respect for its existing minority legislation, a Council of Europe (CoE) report says, highlighting the problems facing the Serb minority there at national and local level.

The rights of ethnic Serbs in terms of the use of their language and script, economic integration of returnees and access to the Croatian labour market is marked by a discriminatory approach, the CoE Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) said in its latest report.

The existing legislative framework concerning minority rights in Croatia is mostly not implemented in practice, it said.

“Too few representatives of national minorities are employed in public services, and the right to use minority languages and scripts is not implemented in some localities,” the report said.

The report also warns of “increased incidents of hate speech that has become more acceptable in the media and in political discourse.”

“Anti-minority rhetoric and prejudice dominates much of the public debate on national minorities, resulting in many individuals refraining from accessing their rights for fear of negative repercussions,” the report also said.