Attacks on medical workers, teachers to be prosecuted ex officio

26. March 2015.

The Croatian government on Thursday sent to parliament final amendments to the Penal Code expanding legal protection to healthcare workers and teachers so that threats and acts of coercion against those workers could be prosecuted ex officio.

If a teacher receives threats, he will no longer have to file a private lawsuit, but such offences will be prosecuted ex officio, said Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic. The amendments do not include ex officio prosecution of attacks on lawyers, but given that the public has witnessed such cases recently, the government is inclined to expand such legal protection to the legal profession as well, which will be discussed by the parliament, said the minister.

The Penal Code will retain the punishable offence against one's reputation, namely defamation, with the minister citing situations when such an offence will not be indictable. Those situations are if the offence was committed while performing research, professional and journalistic work, if it was committed in the public interest or for other justified reasons, said the minister.

The minister said that all government members constituted public interest and that cases of defamation that related to them would not be prosecuted. The Penal Code will be amended to reintroduce violent behaviour and domestic violence, Miljenic said, adding that in a few months' time he would propose a law on protection from domestic violence.

The amendments to the Penal Code also propose ex officio prosecution of offences that have caused financial damage of at least HRK 1,000 instead of HRK 2,000 which has been the case so far. Under the amendments, the statute of limitations will no longer apply to murder, terrorism and murder of a person under international protection.

The minister said he regretted that the constitution had not been changed to regulate that issue retroactively and that this amendment would apply only to future cases. In line with European trends, persons preparing for participation in terrorist operations will be criminally prosecuted as well.