On Monday FRA, together with the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU, hosted the second meeting of the Working Party on combating hate crime, with the participation of representatives from 24 EU Member States. Members of the European Commission, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance also took part.
“All of FRA’s large-scale surveys show that victims of hate crimes are often reluctant to report their experiences to the police or any other organization,” said Friso Roscam Abbing, head of FRA’s Communication and Outreach department, in opening the meeting. “The aim of our discussions today is to bring about an increase in reporting and an improvement in recording methods through a detailed exchange of best practices. In this way, the Working Party can contribute to making a tangible change to policy and practice in the EU.”
As well as issues of recording and reporting, participants discussed the need to further strengthen cooperation, especially between the police and civil society, and between agencies and bodies with responsibility for tackling hate crime at the national and local levels. Training programs for law enforcement and criminal justice staff to help staff recognize incidents of hate crime and deal with them appropriately was also discussed.
Cooperation will also be a key topic during the second day of the meeting, when the Working Party is joined by representatives of National Human Rights Bodies (NHRBs) to discuss ways of strengthening their cooperation with national governments. On the first day of their own meeting, the NHRBs, together with FRA, the Council of Europe, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions and the European Network of Equality Bodies, will discuss ways of combating hate speech and NHRBs’ potential role in raising awareness and providing victim support.
To coincide with Monday’s meeting, FRA is publishing a Focus Paper entitled Equal protection for all victims of hate crime: the case of people with disabilities. While hate crimes violate a number of rights enshrined in EU and international legislation, violence, harassment and abuse nonetheless remain common experiences for many people with disabilities. This Focus Paper examines the difficulties faced by people with disabilities who become victims of hate crime, and lists proposals for improving the situation at both the legislative and policy levels.
- People with disabilities face discrimination, stigmatization and isolation every day, which can be a formidable barrier to their inclusion and participation in the community
- Disability is not included in the EU’s hate crime legislation
- Victims of disability hate crime are often reluctant to report their experiences
- If incidents of disability hate crime are reported, the bias motivation is seldom recorded, making investigation and prosecution less likely
- EU and national criminal law provisions relating to hate crime should treat all grounds equally, from racism and xenophobia through to disability
- The EU and its Member States should systematically collect and publish disaggregated data on hate crime, including hate crime against people with disabilities
- Law enforcement officers should be trained and alert for indications of bias motivation when investigating crimes
- Trust-building measures should be undertaken to encourage reporting by disabled victims of bias-motivated or other forms of crime