Two new FRA reports show that hate crime remains a problem in the EU

by zoejardiniere

30.11.2012 A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has been published this week with the aim of helping the EU and its Member States to tackle hate crime by making the issue more visible and bringing perpetrators to justice. Hate crime is defined as violence and crime motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or by a person’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Legislation should be adopted, according to the report, obliging Member States to systematically collect and publish data on the subject, as many countries have gaps in these records.

However this data must be complemented with surveys in order to get a better picture of the scale of hate crime that goes unreported, which the study argues is the vast majority of cases, and to gain insight into individuals’ experiences with law enforcement agents and knowledge of their rights.

The report also recommends harsher sentencing for hate crimes, urging courts to publicly address the motivations of crimes and make clear that biased motivations lead to harsher sentences.

The report underlines that the effect of hate crime goes beyond the individual perpetrator and victim as it threatens everyone who could be perceived as sharing the characteristics of the victim, as well as having the potential to incite followers. For these reasons, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled repeatedly that a failure to take into account biased motivations behind a crime constitutes a violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), prohibiting discrimination.

Arguing that the situation has been getting worse for minority groups across the EU in recent years, the study warns that policy responses to such crimes “differ wildly” between Member States.

A second report has found that members of minority groups are more likely to be victims of crime than the majority population; The average rate of victimisation over the past 12 months for members of minority groups across the Union was 24%, with the Roma and Sub-Saharan Africans the two groups experiencing the highest levels of victimisation, followed by North Africans. Between 57 and 74% of violent assaults over the past 12 months were not reported to the police.

For further information:

–         FRA Fact Sheet on Hate Crime in the EU November 2012

–         FRA Video introducing the reports

–         FRA Press Release

–         FRA EU MIDIS at a glance

–         ECRE Interview with Miltos Pavlou, Institute for Rights, Equality and Diversity, March 2012