Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties, Simon Hughes, visited Croatia, a follow on to visits by Lord McNally, whom Mr Hughes succeeded in December 2013.
Mr Hughes was impressed by Justice Minister Orsat Miljenić’s proposals for further reform of the justice sector, including for a thorough rationalisation of the court structure in Croatia. UK is already contributing to this process though its participation in an ongoing EU project aimed at improving court efficiency, and Mr Hughes discussed with Minister Miljenić ideas on how UK might provide further support on this important reform which will help make the delivery of justice faster and more transparent.
Mr Hughes also met several other officials working on issues covered by his portfolio of Civil Liberties and Minorities. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Dalija Orešković, described good progress in her work: she thought that the role of the Commission was now better understood and was pleased that as a result of the Commission’s extensive education process, a growing number of public officials were seeking the Commission’s opinion on a possible conflict of interest before a situation arose. The Information Commissioner, Anamarija Musa, outlined that the setting up of this important organisation, a crucial tool in the promotion of transparency and open government, and a requirement under Croatia’s EU acquis obligations, was taking longer, and Mr Hughes discussed with the Commissioner how UK might provide further practical support.
Mr Hughes also met a Serb political representative, who spoke about the challenges of ethnic minorities living in Croatia. Deputy Ombudsman for Gender Equality updated Mr Hughes on the upcoming legislation on civil partnership, aimed at widening gay couples’ rights. With NGO Documenta, Mr Hughes discussed progress in the prosecution of war crimes cases.