The development of hate crime reporting, recording and data collection standards and practice in Europe
(cite as: Perry, J. (2019) ‘Connecting on Hate Crime Data in Europe’. Brussels: CEJI. Design & graphics: Jonathan Brennan.)
This section presents an interactive timeline showing the development of a set of standards and norms on hate crime reporting, recording and data collection across Europe and beyond, starting with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1965. Click on full screen for the best presentation. The following section critically analyses where we are now, with a particular focus on norms and standards that relate to cooperation across institutions and between civil society organisations and public authorities in particular.
December 1965 the United Nations passes the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) stating that it should be an offence to, “disseminate ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin.’ The monitoring conducted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that oversees the implementation of the Convention relies on data produced by State bodies and CSOs.
January 1970 The Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination holds its first session. The Committee oversees the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. As explained in the EU Fundamental Rights Agency Report on Hate Crime Recording and Data Collection Practice Across the EU “State Parties to the ICERD are obliged to submit regular reports on the implementation of the Convention to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations, [including on hate crime recording and data collection] to the State Party in the form of ‘concluding observations’”.
1996 ECRI publishes its General Policy Recommendation No. 1 on Combatting racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance guiding the member states of the Council of Europe to, ‘Ensure that accurate data and statistics are collected and published on the number of racist and xenophobic offences that are reported to the police, on the number of cases that are prosecuted, on the reasons for not prosecuting and on the outcome of cases prosecuted’.
1998 ECRI publishes its General Policy Recommendation No. 4: National surveys on the experience and perception of discrimination and racism from the point of view of potential victims, which, ‘recommends to the government of member States to take steps to ensure that national surveys on the experience and perception of racism and discrimination from the point of view of potential victims are organised…’.
2002 United Nations ‘Durban Declaration’ is passed. Among many other actions to counter racism and xenophobia, the Declaration (paragraph 74) urges action to, “Enhance data collection regarding violence motivated by racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”
December 2004 OSCE passes MC Decision No. 12/04, the first Ministerial Council Decision mentioning hate crime. The Decision focuses on OSCE Participating States’ Obligations to “collect and maintain reliable information and statistics about anti-Semitic crimes, and other hate crimes, committed within their territory, report such information periodically to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and make this information available to the public”
2005 ODIHR publishes Combating Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: An Overview of Statistics, Legislation, and National Initiatives the precursor to its annual reports. Alongside ‘official data’ ODHIR’s annual reports include information submitted by NGOs across the OSCE region.
2005 This General Recommendation from CERD reminds States parties that a low number of reported acts of discrimination, including hate crimes can indicate low confidence in the police, or fear of reprisals. The recommendation also covers all forms of racial discrimination in the policing and justice system.
December 2005 OSCE passes MC Decision No 10/05 on collecting hate crime information and statistics. The Ministerial Council Decision commits OSCE Participating States to “[s]trengthen efforts to collect and maintain reliable information and statistics on hate crimes and legislation, to report such information periodically to the ODIHR, and to make this information available to the public and to consider drawing on ODIHR assistance in this field, and in this regard, to consider nominating national points of contact on hate crimes to the ODIHR”.
March 2006 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process established by the Human Rights Council. As explained in the EU Fundamental Rights Agency Report on Hate Crime Recording and Data Collection Practice Across the EU (p. 101), the UPR, “is a state- driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to provide information on what actions they have taken to fulfil their human rights obligations [including on hate crime recording and data collection]. Its reviews are based on a number of documents, such as reports by governments and treaty bodies, as well as reports from national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations.”
December 2006 OSCE passes Ministerial Council Decision No. 13/06 is passed. OSCE Participating States re-commit themselves to “collect and maintain reliable data and statistics on hate crimes”. The role of civil society in “contributing to monitoring and reporting hate crime” is also mentioned and States are encouraged to “facilitate [their] capacity development”.
May 2007 in Šečić v. Croatia the European Court of Human Rights found that when investigating violent offences, the authorities have the duty, “to take all reasonable steps to unmask any racist motive and to establish whether or not ethnic hatred or prejudice may have played a role in the events. Failing to do so and treating racially induced violence and brutality on an equal footing with cases that have non-racist overtones would be to turn a blind eye to the specific nature of acts that are particularly destructive of fundamental rights.”
June 2007 ECRI publishes its General Policy Recommendation No. 11 on Combating racism and racial discrimination in policing guiding member States of the Council of Europe to adopt a shared definition of racist incidents as, ‘any incident that is perceived as racist by the victim or any other person’ and to use this approach to, ‘ensure that the police investigate all racist offences thoroughly and do not overlook the racist motivation of ordinary offences’.
July 2007 in Angelova and Iliev v Bulgaria the European Court of Human Rights hold that the criminal justice system must be able to identify, recognise and appropriately punish racist-motivated crime and that the police must promptly and effective investigate evidence of bias motivation.
December 2007 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision No. 10/07 is passed including commitments on hate crime recording and data collection. Participating States once again reaffirm their commitment to, “collect and maintain reliable data and statistics on hate crimes and incidents”.
2008 ILGA publishes its Handbook on Monitoring and Reporting Homophobic and Transphobic Incidents. This is the first time a civil society organisation comprehensively explains how to record hate crimes and incidents in a way that supports CSO-public authority connection and effective advocacy for change.
November 2008 Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on Combating certain forms of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law is passed. Member States must ensure that national law recognises racist or xenophobic motivation as an aggravating factor in established crimes.
April 2009 FRA publishes EU-MIDIS I, the product of face-to-face interviews with 23,500 people from an immigrant and ethnic minority background in all EU Member States during 2008. It includes information on victims’ experiences of racist crime. These findings provide direct evidence, at the national level, that targeted violence is a problem that needs to be addressed.
May 2009 ODIHR Publishes Hate Crime Laws, A Practical Guide setting out the key legislative approaches to recognising the bias motive in hate crimes and thus serving as a basis for a monitoring and data collection framework that assesses progress in national implementation.
December 2009 OSCE Ministerial Athens Ministerial Decision 9/09 is passed and is the first comprehensive international norm on hate crime recording and data collection. It commits OSCE Participating States, to collect, maintain and make public, reliable data and statistics in sufficient detail on hate crimes and violent manifestations of intolerance, including the numbers of cases reported to law enforcement, the numbers prosecuted and the sentences imposed. It describes hate crime as “a criminal act committed with a bias motivation”. A definition that has formed the basis of ODIHR’s hate crime reporting and data collection.
31 March 2010 The Committee of Ministers to Member States of the Council of Europe passes Recommendation CM/Rec (2010/5) on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In appendix 1A of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 the Committee makes recommendations on hate crime investigation and sentencing and that member states ensure:
- That they take measures to encourage reporting and that those who report are provided with ‘adequate assistance and support’
- ‘that relevant data are gathered and analysed …on “hate crimes” and hate-motivated incidents related to sexual orientation or gender identity.’
October 2012 Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council if 25 October establishing minimum standards on the rights , support and protection of victims of crime is published including explicit rights for victims of hate crimes and imposing obligations on Member States to communicate statistical data including, ‘at least the number and types of the reported crimes and, as far as such data is known, and are available, the number and age and gender of the victims’.
2012 ODIHR launches Training Against Hate Crime for Law Enforcement (TAHCLE), which aims to train police to improve their recognition and understanding of and ability to investigate hate crimes. OSCE Participating States request ODIHR’s assistance and are responsible for the national implementation of the programme.
2012 ODIHR launches its Hate Crime Reporting website, transforming its reporting function into an interactive online space. ODIHR Also launches Training Against Hate Crime for Law Enforcement. TAHCLE trains police to improve their recognition and understanding of and ability to investigate hate crimes. OSCE Participating States request ODIHR’s assistance and are responsible for the national implementation of the programme.
November 2012 the European Commission funded project Facing Facts publishes Hate Crime Monitoring Guidelines for NGOs aiming to monitor hate crimes in their context and begins training a cadre of 50 NGO trainers from across bias motivations.
December 2013 The European Council publishes its conclusions on combating hate crime, ‘Stressing the need for an effective and systematic collection of reliable and comparable data on hate crimes, including, as far as possible, the number of such incidents reported by the public and recorded by the authorities; the number of convictions; the bias motives behind these crimes; and the punishments handed down to offenders’. The language is very consistent with other international norms such as OSCE Ministerial Council Decision 9/09.
January 2014 European Commission publishes a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2008/09.913 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law including observations on the importance of ‘reliable, comparable and systematically collected data [on hate crime]’.
October 2014 FRA Publishes the main results of its European Union lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survey. The survey’s findings, ‘show that many hide their identity or avoid locations because of fear. Others experience discrimination and even violence for being LGBT. Most, however, do not report such incidents to the police or any other relevant authority.’ The report is a clear asset to policy makers and supplements existing national-level evidence and data on anti-LGBT hate crime at the national level.
November 2014 Disability Hate Crime: A guide for disabled people’s organisations, law enforcement agencies, national human rights institutions, media and other stakeholders is jointly published by the European Network for Independent Living and The Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities of the Republic of Croatia. The manual includes detailed consideration of recognising, reporting and monitoring responses to disability hate crime, including a consideration of the case of Đorđević v Croatia.
March 2015 Facing Facts Forward conference brings together a mixed group of CSO, national authorities and international agencies and institutions. Emerging recommendations start to articulate the elements of a collaborative approach to improving the data and information that is available on hate crime.
August 2015 in the case of Identoba and others v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights holds that the same duty to ‘unmask bias motivation’ applies in attacks against LGBT communities. It also drew on data collected by civil society to draw the conclusion that the police should have been aware of the context of hostility faced by the community and increasing the risks of attack that they faced.
April 2016 FRA Publishes Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives, the first report to look at the attitudes and perceptions of criminal justice professionals, giving an insight into the institutional barriers and enablers facing victims of hate crime. A key finding relates to significant differences in perceptions between the police and CSOs about the effectiveness of police responses to hate crime.
June 2016 the European Commission, DG-JUSTICE launches the High Level Group on Racism and Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. Its stated purpose is to act, ‘as a platform to support EU and national efforts in ensuring effective implementation of relevant rules and in setting up effective policies to prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech…by fostering thematic discussions on gaps, challenges and responses, promoting best practice exchange, developing guidance and strengthening cooperation and synergies between key stakeholders.’ Two priority areas: countering hate speech online and improving methodologies for recording and collecting data on hate crime are identified.
December 2016 CEJI launches Facing Facts Online, the first online learning platform for NGOs and other organisations that want to improve their hate crime and hate speech recording, monitoring and response activities.
December 2017 The High Level Group on Racism and Xenophobia endorses the Key Guiding Principles on Hate Crime Recording drawn up by the Subgroup on methodologies for recording and collecting data on hate crime facilitated by FRA.
January 2018 FRA publishes Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU highlighting the reduced resources and spaces for dialogue available to CSOs to conduct their monitoring work, including on hate crime, an increasingly hostile environment in some Member States and calls for the recording of hate crimes against human rights defenders by Member States.
June 2018 FRA publishes Hate Crime Recording and Data Collection Practices Across the EU, which includes detailed information on hate crime recording and data collection systems across the EU, including any systemic cooperation with civil society. It issues the following opinion, ‘EU Member States should set up frameworks for systematic cooperation between law enforcement and relevant civil society organisations. This can be done in the area of data and information-exchange; by early consultation of relevant CSO, drawing on their experience; cooperating on the development of instructions, guidance or training on recording hate crime, including exchanging expertise to develop, refine and revise bias indicators; and by involving CSOs in working groups on how to improve the recording of hate crime.’
August 2018 ODIHR launches the Information Against Hate Crimes Toolkit (INFAHCT): Programme. The programme assists states to identify areas for improvement in their hate crime recording and data collection systems and to take action. CSOs are identified as an important partner in this process.
November 2018 on the occasion of the ten year anniversary of the Framework Decision on Combatting Racism and Xenophobia, The High Level Group on Racism and Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance adopted a guidance note ‘on the practical application of the EU Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia … to help national authorities address common issues of practical application of these rules and ensure effective investigation, prosecution and sentencing of hate crime and hate speech on the ground.’ Its guidance on distinguishing between the hate crime and hate speech concepts provides a basis for more effectively separating these phenomena in recording practice.
November 2018 OSCE- ODIHR launches project outputs from its EU-funded project, ‘Building a Comprehensive Criminal Justice Response to Hate Crime’, including
- model inter-agency agreement including obligations relating to sharing information on hate crime that was implemented in Greece.
December 2018 FRA publishes its second survey on Jewish people’s experiences with hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism in the European Union. The survey’s findings, ‘underscore that antisemitism remains pervasive across the EU – and has, in many ways, become disturbingly normalised’. The report is a clear asset to policy makers and supplements existing national-level evidence and data on antisemitism at the national level.
May 2019 the UN’s, Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice considers, “The responsibility of effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems in preventing and countering crime motivated by intolerance or discrimination of any kind.”
March 2021 The Kyoto Declaration on Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes specific commitments, directly referring to ‘hate crime’ for the first time.
July 2021 FRA’s report examines why victims do not report bias-motivated incidents and the barriers that they face when trying to do so. Recommendations focus on supporting national efforts to encourage and facilitate reporting.
September 2022 Launch of OSCE-ODIHR’s Revised ‘Hate Crime Laws Guide’ First published in 2009, this revised guide is an important guideline for policy makers looking to develop or strengthen national hate crime laws. It is also an important advocacy tool for civil society looking to improve national legislative frameworks.
 United Nations General Assembly (1965).
 Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) (2019).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018b, June) p. 101.
 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (1996).
 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (1998).
 United Nations. (2002) para. 74.
 Council of Europe Portal (2019).
 OSCE Ministerial Council (2004, 7 December) p. 4.
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2005, 15 September).
 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision No. 10/05 (2005).
 United Nations Human Rights Council (2019c).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018b, June) p. 101.
 OSCE Ministerial Council (2006).
 ECtHR (2007, 31 May) paras. 66-67.
 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2007).
 ECtHR (2007, July 26).
 OSCE Ministerial Council (2007).
 International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe (ILGA) (2008).
 The Council of the European Union (2008).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2009).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2009a).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2009b).
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 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2012, 4 October).
 OSCE/ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department (2019a)
 The Facing Facts project (2011 – 2013) was funded by the European Commission JUST/2010/FRAC/AG/1075. For more information, see Facing Facts Online! (2019).
 CEJI (2012).
 The Council of the European Union (2013, 5-6 December).
 European Commission (2014).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2014a, 29 September).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2014b, 29 September).
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 Facing Facts Online (2019).
 December 2016 is also the beginning of the European Commission funded project “Facing all the Facts” (JUST/2015/RRAC/AG/ TRAI/8997) through which this study is undertaken.
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 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2019e).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2017b).
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 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2018a, 29 August).
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 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2019a).
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) (2019b).
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2018c, December).
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2019, 17 May).