WARSAW. Launching its annual Hate Crime Report on today’s International Day for Tolerance, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) emphasized the importance of identifying the underlying bias motives of hate crimes in order to diminish the impact on victims and assist their recovery.
“Hate crimes are especially harmful because they target victims simply for being who they are – said Matteo Mecacci, ODIHR Director – Greater efforts are needed by the authorities to acknowledge the underlying bias and prosecute hate crimes accordingly. In this way, they are also publicly recognizing the impact of such crimes on victims and increasing their confidence in the criminal justice system”.
When hate crimes are investigated and prosecuted as such, victims and their communities receive a clear message that their efforts to report hate-motivated attacks are not in vain and that the criminal justice system will provide redress for the harm caused. Without effective prosecution and investigation of hate crime cases, targeted groups are left to address the impact of hate on the community, undermining trust in the authorities and, as a result, potentially causing wider social instability.
While ODIHR’s new hate crime report indicates increased efforts by police to record hate crimes, it also identifies ongoing challenges in effectively prosecuting and sentencing them as bias-motivated crimes.
Of the 39 OSCE states that provided police statistics for 2022, only 29 supplied data on hate crimes that were prosecuted or sentenced as such. This highlights a need to improve mechanisms to record and share hate crime data at all stages of the criminal justice system, and to train police, prosecutors and the judiciary to ensure that hate crimes are fully addressed.
ODIHR’s hate crime database is the largest of its kind worldwide. It is updated each year with information from official, civil society and other sources, and includes data on hate crime legislation, recording, prosecution and sentencing, as well as best practices.
A key area of ODIHR’s work is to support a comprehensive approach to address hate crime across the OSCE region. ODIHR assists OSCE countries through a range of resources and programmes, including in the areas of hate crime recording and data collection, and training for police and prosecutors.
Today and tomorrow, the findings of the 2022 dataset will be presented to official representatives from across the OSCE region responsible for reporting hate crime data to ODIHR. Held in Warsaw, the meeting provides an opportunity to share good practices, discuss challenges and coordinate ODIHR’s support to national authorities on addressing hate crime.
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