Over 5700 hate crimes reported in 2018, OSCE report
16 November 2019 12:45

Over 5700 hate crimes reported in 2018, OSCE report

WARSAW. KAZINFORM – Marking the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November with the publication of its annual hate crime dataset, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) urges countries to implement hate crime legislation that has existed on their law books for many years.

«Legislation that remains without any practical application is of no more value than the paper it’s printed on,» said ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir. «We must be clear that bias-motivated crime is not a phenomenon that affects minority communities only, but on the contrary is a direct attack on our democracies and the human rights principles on which they are based.»

While 53 out of the 57 countries that make up the OSCE region have laws prohibiting hate crime for a variety of bias motivations, far fewer apply these laws in practice. In particular, many countries do not have mechanisms for police to record hate crimes as a separate category, which means the bias motivation is lost sight of and is much less likely to appear in any final sentence handed down by a court.

In its hate crime reporting, ODIHR continually underlines the fact that the vast majority of bias-motivated crimes go unreported. Many victims do not go to the police because they doubt the authorities will take action, while others fear lengthy court cases and meetings with insensitive law enforcement or judiciary officials that exacerbate the trauma they have already suffered.

Forty-one participating States have submitted hate crime information to ODIHR for 2018. Of these, 41 provided statistics, while 25 provided statistics that are disaggregated by bias motivation.

According to OSCE, the official figures are complemented by reports on hate incidents from 178 civil society groups, covering 44 participating States. These contributions amount to 5,735 hate incidents, including 3,214 disaggregated statistical incidents and 2,521 descriptive incidents. This information includes incidents provided by the Holy See, UNHCR, IOM and OSCE missions.

ODIHR’s hate crime database is the largest of its kind worldwide. It is updated each year with information from both official and civil society sources and includes data on hate crime legislation, recording, prosecution and sentencing, as well as best practices from throughout the region. This year’s civil society data shows that more than 4,500 people were victims of physical violence or direct threats in 2018.

These and other findings were presented earlier this week at an annual meeting of official representatives from across the OSCE responsible for reporting hate crime data to ODIHR.