Roma Refused Access to Pensions in Croatia
13 November 2006
According to information provided to the ERRC by Croatian attorney Alenka Vlahinic, the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance has refused to grant a family pension to Ms Sadija Husic, a Romani woman, following the death of Ms Husic's husband Dervis in November 2000. According Croatian Pension Insurance Act, Ms Husic and her daughter both have a right to receive a family pension because Mr Husic worked for more than five years.
Ms Vlahinic reported that Mr Husic worked as a registered employee of his own business from 1 January 1994 until 9 November 2000, when he died, and paid all the necessary insurance contributions. However, following Ms Husic's request for the family pension, on 2 June the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance issued a decision stating that Mr Husic had worked only from 1 January 1994 through 30 November 1998 – four years and 11 months in total, just short of the required five years – and therefore, Ms Husic is not entitled to receive the family pension.
According to Ms Vlahinic, she has evidence from the Financial Agency that Mr Husic's firm was active until at least April 1999 and paid all the required contributions and that Mr Husic himself was registered and paid all contributions in the same period. Mr Husic worked long enough that his family is entitled to a family pension. Ms Vlahinic is of the opinion that the decision of the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance is a result of discrimination against Ms Husic because all of the proper and necessary documentation was submitted for a positive decision. In Ms Vlahinic's opinion, the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance decided against Ms Husic because she is illiterate, and therefore they assumed that she did not know her rights or understand her late husband's firm and its business.
On 29 June, Ms Vlahinic appealed the decision of the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance, with financial support from the ERRC and the Croatian Law Centre (CLC) within a project funded by the European Union's CARDS programme. With ERRC/CLC support, Ms Vlahinic will also apply for the family pension on behalf of Ms Husic's mentally disabled daughter Amira Husic as she also has the right to this pension.