Groundbreaking Report Addresses Rising Violence in Europe
Human Rights First Launches Book on Hate Crimes: NEW YORK, September 13, 2005 — In recent months, a black teenager was murdered with an axe in northern England in what police have called a racially motivated killing. In Brooklyn, New York, a Hasidic man was punched in the face by two black men yelling, “Hey Jew, what are you doing here?” while less than a week later, in the very same borough, a black man was attacked with a baseball bat and an iron pipe and robbed by a band of young white men shouting racial epithets. In London, attacks against Muslims have increased exponentially — there were 269 incidents over the three-and-a-half week period following the terrorist attacks there, a 600 percent increase over the same period of time in the previous year. These examples represent a pervasive problem which has an impact on every level of society. Bias attacks highlight the disturbing truth that people in Europe and North America are still under threat every day because of who they are: the color of their skin, their real or perceived origins, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. In Everyday Fears: A Survey Of Violent Hate Crimes In Europe And North America, Michael McClintock of Human Rights First (September 13, 2005 publication; $20.00) presents the first in-depth analysis of the increase in hate crimes in the 55 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the disturbing lack of response to such crimes by many national governments, as well as the positive steps that have been taken by certain countries. Everyday Fears uncovers the everyday nature of hate crimes and how these individual acts of violence, from broken windows to beatings, terrorize entire communities. “This kind of pervasive, low-level (but still potentially lethal) violence is . . . arguably the most threatening to the [greatest number] of people, whether in the United Kingdom, Moscow, the Paris suburbs, or in mini-marts or motels in Arkansas or Southern California,” writes McClintock. Everyday Fears shows how the perpetrators of hate crimes wage an assault on identity itself, singling out members of certain communities for attack because of their appearance or the outward display of their religion: Jews are attacked for wearing yarmulkes on the street or in the subway, Sikhs for wearing turbans, and Muslim women are harassed or assaulted for wearing headscarves. “Those under threat face daily pressure to conceal or deny their identities,” says McClintock. When such individuals are targeted, they “are induced to shun public places or remain in de-facto ghettos in an imperfect search for safety.” Some disturbing findings include:
- In the United Kingdom, in a new trend, antisemitic attacks on persons more than doubled in 2004 over 2003; in France, antisemitic attacks rose 63 percent in the same time period.
- In the Netherlands, 174 violent incidents against Muslims and immigrants were recorded during the one month following the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s murder in November 2004. Two hundred and fifty-four similar incidents had been recorded for all of 2003.
- In Germany, almost half of the known victims of racist violence are asylum seekers, with many “afraid to appear in public”; in Russia, members of “visible minorities” fear going on the street or subway alone or after dark.
- In France, violent hate crimes against gay men more than doubled from 2002 to 2003. Legislation was enacted to enhance penalties for anti-gay crimes following the January 2004 attempted murder of Sebastian Nouchet, a gay man who nearly died after being set on fire with gasoline.
- Scotland’s leading disability organization and the British Disability Rights Commission found in a 2003–2004 survey that over half of its sample had been verbally abused, intimidated, and/or physically attacked because they were disabled. Just over a third of the incidents were physical attacks.
The book provides an essential evaluation of legislation and the means of data collection on hate crimes in each country that it covers: the United States, Canada, all members of the Council of Europe, and five Central Asian states. McClintock critiques national governments for failing to enact effective legislation expressly addressing hate crimes and for inadequate monitoring across-the-board, and offers useful recommendations for effecting positive change. In particular, McClintock notes that “[w]hen those attacked are not supported by strong organizations based in their own ethnic or religious communities, their situation is particularly unlikely to be noticed or reported, or to become the object of high-level attention from political leaders or others.” Key recommendations to governments include:
- Defining hate crimes broadly to cover those motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
- Enacting legislation that punishes crimes more severely when it can be shown that they were motivated by such prejudices.
- Enacting legislation to require national justice authorities to collect, analyze, and make available detailed and disaggregated data about hate crimes.
Everyday Fears illustrates the universality of hate crimes and how they affect everyone—-not merely the actual victims of attacks—-by undermining the security of entire communities. Everyday Fears shows how important it is for governments to take immediate action to eliminate the threat of these individual crimes with far-reaching and devastating consequences. Everyday Fears: A Survey of Violent Hate Crimes in Europe and North America By Michael McClintock September 13, 2005 publication; Human Rights First 221 pages; $20.00 paperback ISBN: 0-9753150-2-1 The full report is available at this link: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pubs/pubs.asp#everyday Detailed country reports are included in the full text for Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, and other OSCE member states. Introductory materials only (Table of Contents, Foreword, Executive Summary, and Recommendations to governments): http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/everyday-fears-intro-080805.pdf Fact Sheet on Everyday Fears: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/discrimination/fact_sheet-060105.htm