Significant barriers to reporting hate crime across the EU hinder victims’ access to protection and justice, finds a new report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Many victims do not report attacks, as it is too difficult or they do not trust the police. FRA calls on EU countries to encourage hate crime reporting, improve its recording and ensure victims can get support, protection and justice.
“The Human Rights Center has been saying for years that the current penal code in Estonia inhibits the courage and willingness of victims to report hate crimes. We are convinced that the Riigikogu must include the motive of hatred among the aggravating circumstances of the punishment of the crime. This would encourage victims to talk about what has happened to them, help them gain support and justice, and motivate the police to register hate crimes. This, in turn, would give the state a better picture of the seriousness of the problem and help us to fight the hatred more skillfully,” said Egert Rünne, the director of the Human Rights Center.
FRA’s latest report ‘Encouraging hate crime reporting: the role of law enforcement and other authorities’ highlights the gaps in hate crime reporting across the EU.
The report highlights what needs to change to move towards a victim-centred approach so victims can get justice:
- End discrimination and empower victims – EU countries need to empower victims and witnesses to come forward and report hate crimes. They need to tackle structural discrimination and prejudice in society, eliminate discriminatory policing, publicly condemn hate crime and raise victims’ awareness of their rights and support available.
- Improve reporting, recording and referrals – EU countries need to make hate crime reporting easier, for example by enabling third-party or anonymous reporting. This needs to be coupled with improvements to national recording and data collection systems. Standardised referrals to and from support services would also better protect and support victims.
- Build capacity to tackle hate crime – EU countries should provide practical guidance and training to the police, establish specialised hate crime units and ensure structured cooperation between law enforcement authorities, victim support organisations, civil society organisations and equality bodies.
Millions of people across the EU experience hate-motivated violence and harassment. This can be due to their ethnic or immigration background, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
FRA’s surveys of immigrants and ethnic minorities, Jews, LGBTI people or Roma and Travellers shed light on the extent of discrimination and violence these groups face in Europe. FRA’s recent Fundamental Rights Survey highlights that some minority groups experience twice as much violence as people generally. Up to 9 in 10 people do not report being attacked. Most think that nothing would change if they report it, it is too difficult to report or they do not trust the police.
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