About 28,000 people in Croatia do not live at their permanent registered address and 217,000 do not have a valid identity card, Interior Ministry official Gordana Valenta said on Monday at a public discussion organised by the GONG nongovernmental organisation on the application of the permanent residence law and upcoming local elections.
Valenta said the ministry had found that a certain number of people were registered as living at addresses in former or nonexistent streets or demolished buildings, and that they must legalise their status by the end of the year or they would be stricken from permanent residence records.
She said about 2,500 applications were being processed in March for deletion from permanent residence records in the eastern town of Vukovar.
A preliminary GONG report on the enforcement of the permanent residence law shows that it must be uniform, professional and independent in order to avoid discrimination through arbitrary deletion from permanent residence records or the reporting of nonexistent addresses.
GONG executive director Dragan Zelic said the Interior Ministry must publicly inform citizens in Croatia and abroad about possible changes in their status and the loss of some rights by December 29 this year.
GONG said that despite the law, some citizens would continue to have two home addresses and that this issue should be solved through amendments to the law and international agreements.
A transitional period is envisaged for persons in the reconstruction and housing programme.
Zelic underlined the need to create a single permanent residence database, adding that police were checking if people lived at their permanent registered addresses.
The president of the National Minorities Council, Aleksandar Tolnauer, welcomed the application of the permanent residence law, saying that due to the many issues that had been raised and misinformation, citizens should be properly informed.