Commissioner for Human Rights

FRA presents guidance from across the EU on combating hate crime

EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published a compendium of good practices from across the EU on how to combat hate crime. This is the culmination of work by the Working Party on combating hate crime, to be presented today at a meeting of the Working Party in cooperation with the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU.

“Hate crimes harm not only the victim but also other people from the same group, and undermine social cohesion, which Europe can ill afford particularly at present,’’ said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “In order to combat hate crime effectively, we need to pool our resources and look at what is already working. There are plenty of good practices around the EU – we should make the most of them.”

“By organising this meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands EU Presidency offers a platform to exchange information and learn from each other’s experiences. On helping victims to take the difficult first step and report hate crimes. On how to make the best use of our law enforcement capacity. And on grasping the full significance of the problem, by working on better statistics,” Dutch Security and Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said. “We should not let geographical boundaries get in the way of success.”

“Hate crime is an affront to the EU’s core values. We are seeing fundamental rights breached across the EU every day, as people are attacked for what they look like, what they believe, and who they are,” said EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. “In order to combat hate crime effectively and help victims, we need better quality data. FRA’s Working Party on Improving Reporting and Recording of Hate Crime has been an important move in this direction.”

“The Commission’s newly formed High Level Group on Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance will bring together Member States, FRA, civil society and other international organisations to pull together different expertise and develop synergies to deliver, together, concrete results for society at large. The FRA work on data collection and its support of Member States in improving recording of hate crime needs to be operationalised and will be of central importance in this renewed context.”

The online compendium contains measures that EU countries are using to combat hate crime, with details on their implementation and evaluation. Some 30 practices are being launched today, but these are just a beginning, as the compendium is a living document that will be revised and added to in the coming months. It is aimed at policy makers and law enforcement officers, who are encouraged to review and adapt practices from other countries for their own national context.

The compendium emphasises the Fundamental Rights Agency’s growing focus on practitioners as a vital element in countering hate crime. In this context, FRA is also publishing a new report based on interviews with 263 experts from law enforcement, criminal justice, and civil society organisations. While listing a number of promising developments across the EU, the report chiefly highlights the difficulties of recording hate crime, as well as the risk that police officers may share the discriminatory attitudes of offenders, the probability of discrimination being overlooked in court proceedings, and the overall challenges faced in living up to and enforcing the ideal of a diverse society based on respect for human dignity.

Today, the majority of hate crimes – whether against Roma, LGBT people or members of Muslim or Jewish communities – remain unreported, unprosecuted and therefore invisible, often leaving victims without redress for their suffering. The objective of FRA’s work is to assist EU Member States in encouraging and supporting victims to report their experiences on the one hand and to improve the performance of the police and the judiciary in tackling hate crime on the other, thus helping to ensure access to justice for all victims.