OSCE Ministerial Council Adopts Decision on Combating Antisemitism and Hate Crime
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Society and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for issuing a decision that includes recommendations for states to combat antisemitism and hate crime. The organization urges Secretary of State John Kerry to press European countries to uphold their commitments to combat hate-based violence and discrimination as anti-Semitic violence and political extremism has grown in the region in 2014.
“Governments, including the United States, have a responsibility to respond to acts of antisemitism and hate crime,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “The rise of antisemitism, extremism, and hate crime is no longer just Europe’s problem, it’s a concern for the United States, too. We praise the leadership of Secretary Kerry and the Obama Administration to secure the Ministerial Council decision, and urge them to press their European counterparts to implement their commitments.”
Earlier this week Human Rights First issued an analysis of hate crime data from 57 countries that concluded that OSCE states are still falling short of their commitments to combat the rise of hate-based crime, including anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, xenophobic and racist violence. The analysis and the organization’s recommendations for states were jointly produced with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Human Rights First urges OSCE member states, including the United States, to take the following steps to combat hate crime in the OSCE region:
- Convene a national summit on fighting hate crime that gathers officials from relevant ministries, experts, practitioners, and civil society and religious leaders.
- Hold regular consultations between law enforcement and representatives of communities effected by hate crime and other civil society representatives in order to enhance protection, reporting of hate crimes, and support of victims.
- Invite ODIHR to share expertise and conduct training of police and prosecutors.
- Improve hate crime data collection and make data available to the ODIHR and the public.
Last week Human Rights First, along with ADL and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging him to mobilize U.S. allies and partners in support of action by the Ministerial Council to combat antisemitism. The groups participated earlier this month in a high-level OSCE conference on combating antisemitism held in Berlin, where both the Swiss government (as OSCE Chair) and civil society groups from across the region put forth concrete steps to confront an alarming rise in anti-Semitic violence and hatred in 2014. Today’s Ministerial Council decision advances those recommendations, including that governments should encourage political leaders to speak out strongly against anti-Semitic incidents, ensure that their countries’ legal systems are able to create an environment where anti-Semitic violence and discrimination is not tolerated, investigate and prosecute those who commit anti-Semitic violence, and properly collect and monitor hate crime statistics.
Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino delivered a keynote address before the OSCE during the Human Dimension Implementation meeting in September where she called on the United States and governments around the world to address threats to peace and security while upholding human rights. Massimino also spoke about the rise of extremist parties in Europe, many of which are violently anti-Semitic. Human Rights First experts recently visited Hungary and Greece, where they researched the rise and political success of violent ultranationalist anti-Semitic parties including Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. This informed recommendations in Human Rights First’s report “We’re Not Nazis, but… The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.”