OSCE: Hate crimes still widespread

Hate crimes are still widespread and continue to be a serious problem across the OSCE region, a report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has revealed.

The report, which covers the year 2010, shows that there were numerous instances of intimidation, threats, vandalism, arson, assault and murder, targeting individuals or groups because of their ethnicity, religion or other status.

“It is extremely worrying that bias-motivated violence continues seemingly unabated in our region,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR.

He stressed that hate crimes are particularly heinous criminal acts as they do not only harm the individual or group targeted in the crime, but affect the entire community to which the victim belongs.

“Hate crimes have the potential to undermine cohesion and endanger stability in our society and therefore require vigorous responses,” Lenarčič said, stressing that combating hate crimes must remain a priority for participating States.

The report, entitled “Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses”, is based on the analysis of data received from the 33 participating States that responded to ODIHR’s information request, as well as reports of hate crime incidents from 93 non-governmental organizations.

It includes separate sections on racist and anti-Semitic crimes, violence against Roma and Sinti, Muslims, Christians and members of other religions, as well as crimes based on other bias motivations.

The global economic crisis and intolerant discourse are factors contributing to the occurrence of hate crimes, the report notes.

While the quality of data received from participating States has improved, it remains difficult to identify trends and obtain a complete picture of the true extent of the problem due to remaining significant gaps in data collection and the use of different definitions across the region.