These 11 Recommendations are the result of the first ever transnational, trans-sectoral conference about hate crime in Europe - “Facing Facts! Forward for a Victim Centred Approach to Tackling Hate Crime” – held March 3-4, 2015.
The aim of the conference was to identify practical steps towards creating long lasting partnerships and establishing good quality national monitoring systems according to international quality standards.
Participants in the formulation of these recommendations included 85 high-level and grassroots representatives of law enforcement, governments, civil societies and international organisations from across Europe. The process used was highly interactive, inclusive and egalitarian to ensure the input from all present.
1. Effective data sharing
Effective data sharing across CSOs and government is necessary in order to make data about hate crimes credible. We should be aware of the reluctance to share data because of various data protection legislations, but these should not be a barrier to data sharing in this area. The key aspects for effective data sharing are transparency, quantitative and qualitative data gathering methods, support of academic research, along with compatibility and comparability of data.
2. Sustainable funding of CSOs
CSOs need a better recognition of their role in governmental policies so that their work can be properly funded. Sustainable funding is essential to CSOs’ work.
3. Common hate crime definition
Common hate crime definition and legislation must be extended among police authorities in Europe and fully implemented. When talking about hate crimes, we should reframe the terminology – moving from ‘victims’ to those whose rights have been violated. First, we can all become victims, and some victims may also become perpetrators, and vice versa. Secondly, thinking about « victimhood » may also personalize the issue at the cost of highlighting the broader systemic issues that underlie hate motivated acts.
4. Citizen mobilization and education
Citizen mobilization and education are crucial to raise awareness about hate crimes. We need a larger public awareness on how to recognize a hate crime, for example through campaigning or human rights education on hate crimes targeting schools. The targets of hate crimes and the witnesses can have a key role to play as actors of change by raising awareness among all citizens.
5. Solidarity and coalition building
Cross-community solidarity is crucial. Hate crime affects us all, regardless of whether we are the direct victims (e.g. increase of social cost dealing with the aftermath of hate crimes, further deterioration of neighbourhoods, etc.). Solidarity and coalition building must be fostered amongst CSOs. We can all be victims.
6. The role of minority community members
Minority community members should be encouraged to take on an active role in helping to make hate crime central to government policy. Encouraging community members to take an active role may change the culture of reporting. It is essential to educate the wider community, and to be close to the communities on other topics than hate crime. It is crucial to facilitate a greater involvement of communities in decision making and policy setting in this area. Long-lasting relationships between the stakeholders and with victims’ communities are crucial.
7. Support services to the victims
Support, follow up and a streamlined advocacy service for victims have to be established by offering different services. A more visible and explicit approach to providing support services to the victims of hate crimes should be developed. Further research into victims’ needs across target groups and in a number of countries is necessary to define the most appropriate support services. Access to financial compensation for victims should be facilitated. (cf. the Victims’ Directive)
8. Cooperation between CSOs and law enforcement
A collaborative approach between all agencies (police, communities, media, social workers) is crucial in a process that also establishes trust. Strengthening the cooperation between CSOs and law enforcement (for example through common trainings on hate crime and diversity in general, data sharing and shared definitions of hate crime) is essential. Establish data sharing and information sharing protocols between police and CSOs. They need to develop joint strategies in order to protect isolated victim groups.
9. Guidelines for recording and reporting hate crimes
Guidelines of international organisations are essential. Developing a consolidated, simplified system of reporting accessible to victims is important in that matter. A consolidated list with the contact details of prosecutors, police officers, but also victims associations would foster communication and cooperation. Effective and standardized reporting and recording mechanisms have to be implemented through campaigning and internal capacity building. (cf. Facing Facts Guidelines for Monitoring of Hate Crimes and Hate Motivated Incidents; ODIHR’s Hate Crime Data-Collection and Monitoring Mechanisms: A Practical Guide).
10. Restorative justice approaches
Working with the perpetrators should also be considered, through for example, restorative justice programmes and approaches. Rehabilitative interventions with perpetrators of hate crime might prevent the escalation of violent behaviour in the future. This area for possible action deserves further research.
11. Specific nature of hate crimes
There is a need to de-mask the driving forces lying behind and leading to hate crimes in order to identify their specific nature. The tendency in politics to hide the nature of specific forms of hate crime by means of generalizations leads to downplaying and / or a minimization of certain types of hate crimes and their dimensions in society.