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Constitution of Croatia (1991, rev. 2001)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

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3I. Historical Foundations

4The millenary identity of the Croatia nation and the continuity of its statehood, confirmed by the course of its entire historical experience within different forms of states and by the preservation and growth of the idea of a national state, founded on the historical right of the Croatian nation to full sovereignty, manifested in:

5 The formation of Croatian principalities in the seventh century;

6 The independent mediaeval state of Croatia founded in the ninth century;

7 The Kingdom of Croats established in the tenth century;

8 The preservation of the identity of the Croatian state in the Croatian-Hungarian personal union;

9 The independent and sovereign decision of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) of 1527 to elect a king from the Habsburg dynasty;

10 The independent and sovereign decision of the Croatian Parliament of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1712;

11 The conclusions of the Croatian Parliament of 1848 regarding the restoration of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia under the authority of the Banus grounded on the historical, national and natural right of the Croatian nation;

12 The Croatian-Hungarian Compromise of 1868 on the relations between the Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia and the Kingdom of Hungary, grounded on the legal traditions of both states and the Pragmatic Sanction of 1712;

13 The decision of the Croatian Parliament of 29 October 1918 to dissolve state relations between Croatia and Austria-Hungary and the simultaneous affiliation of independent Croatia, invoking its historical and natural right as a nation, with the state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, proclaimed on the former territory of the Habsburg Monarchy;

14 The fact that the Croatian Parliament had never sanctioned the decision of the National Council of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs to unite with Serbia and Montenegro in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1 December 1918), subsequently (3 October 1929) proclaimed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia;

15 The establishment of the Home Rule (Banovina) of Croatia in 1939, by which Croatian state identity was restored within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia,

16 Establishing the foundations of state sovereignty during the course of the Second World War, by the decisions of the Antifascist Council of National Liberation of Croatia (1943), as opposed to the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia (1941), and subsequently in the Constitution of the People's Republic of Croatia (1947) and all later constitutions of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963-1990), on the threshold of the historical changes, marked by the collapse of the communist system and changes in the European international order, the Croatian nation by its freely expressed will at the first democratic elections (1990) reaffirmed its millenniary statehood. By the new Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (1990) and the victory in the Homeland War (1991-1995), the Croatian nation demonstrated its will and determination to establish and defend the Republic of Croatia as a free, independent, sovereign and democratic state. Considering the presented historical facts and universally accepted principles of the modern world, as well as the inalienable and indivisible, non-transferable and non-exhaustible right of the Croatian nation to self-determination and state sovereignty, including its fully maintained right to secession and association, as basic provisions for peace and stability of the international order, the Republic of Croatia is established as the national state of the Croatian nation and the state of the members of autochthonous national minorities: Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians and Ruthenians and the others who are citizens, and who are guaranteed equality with citizens of Croatian nationality and the realization of national rights in accordance with the democratic norms of the United Nations Organization and the countries of the free world.

17 Respecting the will of the Croatian nation and all citizens, resolutely expressed in the free elections, the Republic of Croatia is hereby founded and shall develop as a sovereign and democratic state in which equality, freedoms and human rights are guaranteed and ensured, and their economic and cultural progress and social welfare promoted.

18II. Basic Provisions

19Article 1

20The Republic of Croatia is a unitary and indivisible democratic and social state.

21Power in the Republic of Croatia derives from the people and belongs to the people as a community of free and equal citizens.

22The people shall exercise this power through the election of representatives and through direct decision-making.

23Article 2

24The sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia is inalienable, indivisible and untransferable.

25The sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia includes its land area, rivers, lakes, canals, internal maritime waters, territorial sea, and the air space above these.

26The Republic of Croatia shall exercise its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the maritime areas and the seabed and subsoil thereof of the Adriatic Sea outside the state territory up to the borders with its neighbors in accordance with international law.

27The Croatian Parliament (Sabor) or the people directly shall, independently and in accordance with the Constitution and law, decide:

28 On the regulation of economic, legal and political relations in the Republic of Croatia

29 On the preservation of natural and cultural wealth and its utilization

30 On association into alliances with other states.

31The Republic of Croatia may conclude alliances with other states, retaining its sovereign right to decide on the powers to be delegated and the right freely to withdraw from such associations.

32Article 3

33Freedom, equal rights, national equality and equality of genders, love of peace, social justice, respect for human rights, inviolability of ownership, conservation of nature and the environment, the rule of law, and a democratic multiparty system are the highest values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia and the ground for interpretation of the Constitution.

34Article 4

35In the Republic of Croatia government shall be organized on the principle of separation of powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches, but limited by the right to local and regional self-government guaranteed by this Constitution.

36The principle of separation of powers includes the forms of mutual cooperation and reciprocal checks and balances provided by the Constitution and law.

37Article 5

38In the Republic of Croatia laws shall conform with the Constitution, and other rules and regulations shall conform with the Constitution and law.

39Everyone shall abide by the Constitution and law and respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia.

40Article 6

41Formation of political parties is free.

42Internal organization of political parties shall be in accordance with the fundamental constitutional democratic principles.

43Parties shall publicize the accounts on sources of their assets and property.

44Political parties which by their programs or violent activities aim to demolish the free democratic order endanger the existence of the Republic of Croatia are unconstitutional. The decision on unconstitutionality shall be made by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.

45The status and financing of political parties shall be regulated by law.

46Article 7

47The armed forces of the Republic of Croatia shall protect its sovereignty and independence and defend its territorial integrity.

48The armed forces of the Republic of Croatia may cross its borders or act over its borders only upon a prior decision of the Croatian Parliament.

49The armed forces may cross the borders of the Republic of Croatia without a prior decision of the Croatian Parliament for the purposes of exercises within the international defense organizations which the Republic of Croatia has joined or joins, and in order to offer humanitarian aid.

50In the circumstances provided by Articles 17 and 100 of the Constitution, the armed forces may, if the nature of jeopardy demands so, be used as assistance to police and other governmental bodies.

51Organization of defense, command, administration and democratic control over the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia shall be regulated by this Constitution and law.

52Article 8

53The borders of the Republic of Croatia may only be altered by a decision of the Croatian Parliament.

54Article 9

55Croatian citizenship, its acquisition and termination shall be regulated by law.

56No Croatian citizen shall be exiled from the Republic of Croatia or deprived of citizenship, nor extradited to another state.

57Article 10

58The Republic of Croatia shall protect the rights and interests of its citizens living or residing abroad, and shall promote their links with the homeland.

59Parts of the Croatian nation in other states shall be guaranteed special concern and protection by the Republic of Croatia.

60Article 11

61The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Croatia is the historic Croatian coat-of-arms whose base consists of 25 alternating red and white (argent) fields.

62The flag of the Republic of Croatia consists of three colors: red, white and blue, with the historic Croatian coat-of-arms in the center.

63The anthem of the Republic of Croatia is "Our Beautiful Homeland" (Lijepa naša domovino).

64The description of the historic Croatian coat-of-arms and flag, the text of the anthem, and the use of these and other state symbols shall be regulated by law.

65Article 12

66The Croatian language and the Latin script shall be in official use in the Republic of Croatia.

67In individual local units, another language and the Cyrillic or some other script may be introduced into official use along with the Croatian language and the Latin script under conditions specified by law.

68Article 13

69The capital of the Republic of Croatia is Zagreb.

70Status, jurisdiction and organization of the capital city of Zagreb shall be regulated by law.

71III. Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

721. General Provisions

73Article 14

74Everyone in the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy rights and freedoms, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social origin, property, birth, education, social status or other characteristics.

75All shall be equal before the law.

76Article 15

77Members of all national minorities shall have equal rights in the Republic of Croatia.

78Equality and protection of the rights of national minorities shall be regulated by the Constitutional Act which shall be adopted in the procedure provided for the organic law.

79Besides the general electoral right, the special right of the members of national minorities to elect their representatives into the Croatian Parliament may be provided by law.

80Members of all national minorities shall be guaranteed freedom to express their nationality, freedom to use their language and script, and cultural autonomy.

81Article 16

82Freedoms and rights may only be restricted by law in order to protect freedoms and rights of others, public order, public morality and health.

83Every restriction of freedoms or rights shall be proportional to the nature of the necessity for restriction in each individual case.

84Article 17

85During a state of war or an immediate threat to the independence and unity of the State, or in the event of severe natural disasters, individual freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution may be restricted. This shall be decided by the Croatian Parliament by a two-thirds majority of all members or, if the Croatian Parliament is unable to meet, at the proposal of the Government and upon the counter-signature of the Prime Minister, by the President of the Republic.

86The extend of such restrictions shall be adequate to the nature of the danger, and may not result in the inequality of persons in respect of race, color, gender, language, religion, national or social origin.

87Not even in the case of an immediate threat to the existence of the State may restrictions be imposed on the application of the provisions of this Constitution concerning the right to life, prohibition of torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, on the legal definitions of penal offenses and punishments, or on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

88Article 18

89The right to appeal against the first instance decisions made by courts or other authorities shall be guaranteed.

90The right to appeal may exceptionally be excluded in cases specified by law, if other legal remedies are ensured.

91Article 19

92Individual decisions of administrative agencies and other bodies vested with pubic authority shall be grounded on law.

93Judicial review of decisions made by administrative agencies and other bodies vested with public authority shall be guaranteed.

94Article 20

95Anyone who violates the provisions of the Constitution concerning the human rights and fundamental freedoms shall be held personally responsible and may not be exculpated by invoking a superior order.

962. Personal and Political Freedoms and Rights

97Article 21

98Every human being has the right to life.

99In the Republic of Croatia there shall be no capital punishment.

100Article 22

101Freedom and personality of everyone shall be inviolable.

102No one shall be deprived of liberty, nor may his liberty be restricted, except upon a court decision in accordance with law.

103Article 23

104No one shall be subjected to any form of maltreatment or, without his consent, to medical or scientific experimentation.

105Forced and compulsory labor shall be forbidden.

106Article 24

107No one shall be arrested or detained without a court warrant. Such a warrant shall be read and served on the person being arrested.

108The police may arrest a person without a warrant when the person is reasonably suspected of having committed a serious criminal offence defined by law. The arrested person shall be promptly informed, in understandable terms, of the reasons for the arrest and of his rights determined by law.

109Any person arrested or detained shall have the right to take proceedings before a court, which shall decide without delay on the legality of the arrest.

110Article 25

111All arrested and convicted persons shall be treated humanely and their dignity shall be respected.

112Anyone who is detained and accused of a criminal offence shall have the right to be brought before the court within the shortest term specified by law and to be acquitted or sentenced within the statutory term.

113A detainee may be released on legal bail to defend himself.

114Any person who has been illegally deprived of liberty or convicted shall, in conformity with law, be entitled to damages and a public apology.

115Article 26

116All citizens of the Republic of Croatia and aliens shall be equal before the courts, government bodies and other bodies vested with pubic authority.

117Article 27

118The Bar, as an autonomous and independent service, shall provide everyone with legal aid, in conformity with law.

119Article 28

120Everyone shall be presumed innocent and my not be considered guilty of a criminal offence until his guilt has been proved by a final court judgment.

121Article 29

122Everyone shall have the right to the independent and fair trial provided by law which shall, within a reasonable term, decide upon his rights and obligations, or upon the suspicion or the charge of a penal offence.

123In the case of suspicion or accusation for a penal offence, the suspected, accused or prosecuted person shall have the right:

124 To be informed in detail, and in the language he understands, within the shortest possible term, of the nature and reasons for the charges against him and of the evidence incriminating him,

125 To have adequate time and opportunity to prepare his defense,

126 To a defense counsel and free communication with him, and to be informed of this right,

127 To defend himself in person or with the assistance of a defense counsel of his own choice, and if he lacks resources to engage a counsel, to have a free counsel under the terms specified by law,

128 To be tried in his presence if he is accessible to the court,

129 To interrogate or have the prosecution witnesses interrogated and to demand the presence and hearing of the defense witnesses under the same circumstances as for the witnesses for the prosecution,

130 To free assistance of an interpreter if he does not understand the language used in the court.

131The suspected, accused and prosecuted person shall not be forced to confess his guilt.

132Evidence illegally obtained shall not be admitted in court proceedings.

133Criminal proceedings shall only be initiated before the court of justice upon the demand of an authorized prosecutor.

134Article 30

135The sentence for a serious and exceptionally dishonorable criminal offence may, in conformity with law, have as a consequence the loss of acquired rights or a ban on acquiring, for a specific period of time, certain rights relating to the conduct of specific affairs, if this is required for the protection of the legal order.

136Article 31

137No one shall be punished for an act which before its commission was not defined as a punishable offence by law or international law, nor he may be sentenced to a penalty which was not defined by law. If a less severe penalty is determined by law after the commission of an act, such penalty shall be imposed.

138No one may be tried anew nor punished in criminal proceedings for an act for which he has already been acquitted or sentenced by a final court judgment in accordance with law.

139The cases and reasons for the renewal of court proceedings under section 2 of this Article may be provided only by law, in accordance with the Constitution and an international agreement.

140Article 32

141Anyone lawfully within the territory of the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy the liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

142Every citizen of the Republic of Croatia shall have the right to leave the State territory at any time and settle abroad permanently or temporarily, and to return to his homeland at any time.

143The liberty of movement within the Republic of Croatia and the right to enter or leave it may exceptionally be restricted by law, if this is necessary to protect the legal order, or health, rights and freedoms of others.

144Article 33

145Foreign citizens and stateless persons may obtain asylum in the Republic of Croatia, unless they are prosecuted for non-political crimes and activities contrary to the basic principles of international law.

146No alien lawfully within the territory of the Republic of Croatia shall be expelled or extradited to another state, except in pursuance of a decision made in accordance with a treaty and law.

147Article 34

148Homes shall be inviolable.

149Only a court may order the search of a home or other premises, issuing a warrant with the statement of reasons, in conformity with law.

150The tenant or his representative shall have the right to be present at the search of his home or other premises in the compulsory presence of two witnesses.

151Under the conditions provided by law, the police authorities may enter a person's home or premises and carry out a search in the absence of witnesses even without a court warrant or consent of the tenant, if this is indispensable to enforce an arrest warrant or to apprehend the offender, or to prevent serious danger to life and health of people or major property.

152A search aimed at finding or securing evidence for which there is grounded probability to be found in the home of the perpetrator of a criminal offence may only be carried out in the presence of witnesses.

153Article 35

154Everyone shall be guaranteed respect for and legal protection of personal and family life, dignity, reputation and honor.

155Article 36

156Freedom and privacy of correspondence and all other forms of communication shall be guaranteed and inviolable.

157Restrictions necessary for the protection of the State security and the conduct of criminal proceedings may only be prescribed by law.

158Article 37

159Everyone shall be guaranteed the safety and secrecy of personal data. Without consent from the person concerned, personal data may be collected, processed and used only under conditions specified by law.

160Protection of data and supervision of the work of information systems in the State shall be regulated by law.

161The use of personal data contrary to the purpose of their collection shall be prohibited.

162Article 38

163Freedom of thought and expression shall be guaranteed.

164Freedom of expression shall specifically include freedom of the press and other media of communication, freedom of speech and public expression, and free establishment of all institutions of public communication.

165Censorship shall be forbidden. Journalists shall have the right to freedom of reporting and access to information.

166The right to correction shall be guaranteed to anyone whose constitutional and legal rights have been violated by public information.

167Article 39

168Any call for or incitement to war, or resort to violence, national, racial or religious hatred, or any form of intolerance shall be prohibited and punishable by law.

169Article 40

170Freedom of conscience and religion and freedom to manifest religion and other convictions shall be guaranteed.

171Article 41

172All religious communities shall be equal before the law and shall be separated from the State.

173Religious communities shall be free, in conformity with law, publicly to perform religious services, to open schools, educational and other institutions, social and charitable institutions and to manage them, and shall them, and shall in their activity enjoy the protection and assistance of the State.

174Article 42

175Everyone shall be guaranteed the right of public assembly and peaceful protest, in conformity with law.

176Article 43

177Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of association for the purposes of protection of their interests or promotion of their social, economic, political, national, cultural and other convictions and objectives. For this purpose, everyone may freely form trade unions and other associations, join them or leave them, in conformity with law.

178The exercise of this right shall be restricted by the prohibition of any violent threat to the democratic constitutional order and independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Croatia.

179Article 44

180Every citizen of the Republic of Croatia shall have the right, under equal conditions, to take part in the conduct of public affairs, and to have access to public services.

181Article 45

182All Croatian citizens of the Republic of Croatia who have reached the age of eighteen years shall have universal and equal suffrage. This right shall be exercised through direct elections by secret ballot.

183In elections for the Croatian Parliament and for the President of the Republic, the Republic of Croatia shall ensure suffrage to its citizens who are abroad at the time of the elections, so that they may vote in the countries in which they are or in any other way specified by law.

184Article 46

185Everyone shall have the right to submit petitions and complaints, to make proposals to government and other public bodies, and to receive answers too.

186Article 47

187Military service and the defense of the Republic of Croatia shall be the duty of every capable citizen of the Republic of Croatia.

188Conscientious objection shall be allowed to all those who for religious or moral reasons are not willing to participate in the performance of military service in the armed forces. Such persons shall be obliged to perform other duties specified by law.

1893. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

190Article 48

191The right of ownership shall be guaranteed.

192Ownership implies obligations. Owners and users of property shall contribute to the general welfare.

193A foreign person may acquire property under conditions spelled out by law.

194The right of inheritance shall be guaranteed.

195Article 49

196Entrepreneurial and market freedom shall be the basis of the economic system of the Republic of Croatia.

197The State shall ensure all entrepreneurs an equal legal status on the market. Abuse of monopoly position defined by law shall be forbidden.

198The State shall stimulate the economic progress and social welfare and shall care for the economic development of all its regions.

199The rights acquired through the investment of capital shall not be diminished by law, or by any other legal act.

200Foreign investors shall be guaranteed free transfer and repatriation of profits and the capital invested.

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