New York City – Human Rights First and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued a paper critiquing inadequate government responses to hate crimes of participating Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) states. The joint analysis also provides recommendations for what states can do to improve both their record on hate crimes as well as the reporting process that allows governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to track progress. Each year, the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) issues a report documenting hate crimes around the world. This year’s report, “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region for 2011,” based on submissions from governments, NGOs, and inter-governmental organizations, points to the lack of progress of most states to fulfill commitments to collect hate crimes data. While the annual report is an important tool in understanding the nature and frequency of hate crimes across the OSCE region, such reporting is undermined when states either don’t collect data at the national level or fail to contribute their findings to the ODIHR in a timely manner. “We are concerned that the number of states submitting data to the OSCE declined from previous years,” noted Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “We’ve also noted serious discrepancies between the data submitted by governments, IGOs, and NGOs.” Human Rights First’s joint paper notes that many of the participating states still do not collect statistics on hate crimes, and information on cases recorded by police in 2011 is missing for 32 states. Data submitted by states largely concerns crime-motivated racism and xenophobia. There is almost no data on hate crimes targeting Roma and the information on hate crimes against LGBT persons comes almost exclusively from submissions from NGOs. The analysis produced by Human Rights First and the Anti-Defamation League offers specific recommendations tailored to the states’ varying levels of adherence to commitments to combat hate crimes. These recommendations include:
- Train police to identify and properly record hate crimes.
- Reach out to nongovernmental organizations and develop programs to enhance reporting of hate crimes.
- Develop monitoring systems that provide disaggregated data on the characteristics of the victims or on the bias motivations.
- Make hate crimes data—disaggregated by crime type—available to the ODIHR and to the public.
- Enact laws that establish specific offenses or provide enhanced penalties for violent crimes committed because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental and physical disabilities, or other similar status.
The report was released during the OSCE’s annual meeting that brought together the National Points of Contact (NPCs), those officials from the capitals of the 56 participating states responsible for carrying out policies on hate crimes. LeGendre was in attendance at the meeting. “We welcome the decision to open this year’s NPC meeting to NGOs, which have an important role to play in combating hate crimes. We are also pleased that the United States delegation included a representative from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division. The U.S. has long supported the OSCE’s hate crimes work and its decision this year to send a DOJ hate crimes expert is a welcome sign of its continued commitment,” concluded LeGendre.