More than 500 victims of paedophilia every year in Croatia


There should be no statute of limitations for paedophilia, minimal sentences must be increased in order to reduce probations, and all institutions working with children should check the register of sex offenders whenever they hire new employees, the government Committee for Family, Youth and Sports suggested on Friday in the parliament.

According to police data, there are some 510 children who are victims of paedophilia every year, 85 percent of whom are girls.
“Out of all known sex offences in Croatia, some 68 percent victims are children and young people, which is deeply concerning,” said Zeljko Prsa from the Interior Ministry.

Out of some 300 reported sex offenders, some 76 percent committed crimes against children, the data shows.

The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) put their anti-paedophilia bill in parliament procedure in November last year. The bill envisioned more stringent punishments for paedophiles, striking the statute of limitations, and a ban on future working with children for those convicted, as well as creating a separate register for convicted paedophiles.

The bill received support by the organisations dealing with the problem, as well as the Ombudswoman for Children, Helena Pirnat-Dragicevic, who said that the register of paedophiles existed since 2013, but was not separate or public, so the data is available only per request from courts, the police, or the State Attorney’s office.

“We want that all institutions that work with children, schools, kindergartens, sports clubs and playrooms, be obligated to request confirmations that those who work with children were never convicted (of paedophilia),” she said.

Current practice is problematic, she added.

“It’s unbelievable that someone convicted of sexual abuse of children should get a six-month sentence, a parole, or even community service,” said Anita Papa, head of one organisation for helping victims of paedophiles. “This way we send a message to children that it’s better to keep quiet than find the strength to report a criminal. Even though those children are left with life-long scars, the offenders often get away with small sentences, or sometimes with no punishment at all, thanks to the statute of limitations.”

The first reading of the HDZ’s bill will be after the summer break, said Irena Petrijevcanin-Vuksanovic of the HDZ.

Under the provisions of the bill, she said, criminal offences of sexual abuse and child exploitation will not be subject to statute of limitations, same as war crimes. Offenders will be subject to mandatory five-year surveillance, which, under the current law, the judge can, but does not have to order. Convicted paedophiles will be forbidden to work in any field where they come into contact with children, which up until now was left for the judge to decide.

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