Croatia to introduce aggravated murder of female person as new felony offence

Aggravated murder of a female person will be introduced as a new criminal offence as part of amendment of several laws in a bid to step up the fight against violence against women in Croatia.

Presenting the changes, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday that this was the third set of measures taken by his cabinet to step up efforts to counter violence against women.

Under the latest round of legislative changes, also investigative detention will be imposed on offenders who disregard restraining orders, and victims will be informed about the release of offenders from custody.

Furthermore, punishment for rape will be more stringent.

During today’s meeting with officials of institutions and activists engaged in campaigning against violence against women, Plenkovic reiterated his cabinet’s commitment to fight violence against women.

The proposed measures confirm the political will to conduct the fight against violence against women, he underscored.

It is necessary to reduce the “scope of this phenomenon” through concerted actions and policies, he said, adding that violence against women “is eroding the Croatian society”.

There are too many cases of brutal violence and murder in our society, and women are the victims, he said.

In order to strengthen the position of victims, they will be entitled to appeal a decision on a restraining order and the competent courts will be expected, in case such a decision is violated, to decide on replacing the restraining order with custodyВ within 24 hours.

The police will be given powers to arrest offenders suspected of violating restraining order provisions.

Also, sexual harassment will be treated as a felony offence and no longer as a misdemeanor.

Considering sentences for rape, they will be longer – three to eight years for the fundamental formВ of rape and 5 to 12 years for statutory rape.

Also, statute of limitations will be removed for felony sexual assault against children.

We have decided to send an unequivocal message that killing a woman only because she is a woman is unacceptable, said Plenkovic.

The changes also envisage the amendment of the legislation on courts so as to professionally train judges dealing with cases of domestic violence and violence against women.

The Family Law will be amended to strengthen the position of children and set up an alimony fund which can be tapped when spouses fail to fulfill their obligation to provide financial support to their children. The state will enforce the funds from those spouses later.

The draft changes will be put to public consultation soon.

They are supposed to be adopted in January 2024.

Representatives of the institutions and associations said at the meeting that they were satisfied with the proposed measures, however, they wereВ not sure how those measures would be implemented on the ground.