Croatia to launch toll-free hotline for crime victims in July

Apr 29, 2013

A new toll-free hotline for crime victims will begin functioning in Croatia in July 2013 as part of a USD 177,000 project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. The project aims to engage young people in protecting the rights of victims and witnesses of crimes. Specially trained volunteers will operate a call center that will be accessible through the toll-free number 116 006, which is unified for the entire territory of the European Union. Premises for the call center have been provided by the Ministry of Justice, and young volunteers, many of them law students, are currently being trained.

The introduction of the national hotline is designed to provide crime victims with instant access to a wide range of information: from what to do when a crime occurs to where to seek professional help.

The hotline is an extension of work already conducted by UNDP in Croatia to provide support for victims and witnesses of crimes in judicial proceedings. Since 2008, UNDP has supported the Ministry of Justice in Croatia in creating seven Witness and Victim Support (WVS) Offices in county courts in Zagreb, Zadar, Osijek, Vukovar, Sisak, Rijeka and Split. These support offices have so far provided support and counseling to nearly 15,000 witnesses summoned to testify in criminal cases.

The work of the WVS Offices revealed the need for a dedicated telephone line. Although people living close enough to the seven offices could seek advice in person, more than 10,000 others sought support by telephone. These calls were a burden to callers since they were not free-of-charge. So the decision was made to expand the program to provide telephone advice free-of-charge. The availability of a national number will also help people living far from the seven WVS offices.

Financial support for the project has been provided by UNDP and by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A Letter of Agreement providing for the establishment of the call centre and the procurement of the necessary equipment was signed on 29 April 2013 by Deputy Justice Minister Sandra Artuković Kunšt, UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton, and Executive Director of the Victim and Witness Support Service Barbara Veličković. Dutch Ambassador Stella Ronner-Grubačić attended the meeting.