People's Stories Equality

Recording and monitoring incidents of hate crimes and discrimination
by OSCE Office for Human Rights (ODIHR), agencies
The fight against discrimination and hate towards minorities failing to deliver. (FRA)
Persisting widespread discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU threatens to marginalise and alienate many minority group members who otherwise feel largely attached to the country they live in and trust its institutions. These findings emerge from a major repeat survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
“Almost a decade ago we warned about the presence of large-scale ethnic discrimination and hatred. Today, these new results show that our laws and policies are inadequately protecting the people they are meant to serve,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.
“With every act of discrimination and hate, we erode social cohesion and create inequalities that blight generations fuelling the alienation that may ultimately have devastating consequences.”
The Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II): main results report points to the need for specific and stronger measures to provide legal protection against discrimination coupled with effective sanctions.
In addition, since 88% of ethnic discrimination, 90% of hate-motivated harassment and 72% of hate-motivated violence were not reported, much stronger outreach is needed to encourage victims to come report incidents, while law enforcement and equality bodies need the right tools to deal with these reports effectively.
29 November 2017
A pilot version of a platform for reporting and recording hate incidents, which is being developed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), was presented and discussed with representatives of Polish and Hungarian civil society organizations during meetings in Warsaw and Budapest on 27 and 29 November 2017, respectively.
Part of ODIHR’s Words into Action to Address Anti-Semitism (WIA) project, the platform is meant to support civil society organisations throughout the OSCE region in recording and monitoring incidents of hate crimes and discrimination. Victims and witnesses will be able to submit reports directly to a local civil society organization using an online form, and civil society organizations will be able to maintain a local database of reported cases.
Seven Polish NGO representatives attended the meeting in Warsaw and nine Hungarian NGO representatives took part in the Budapest event. Three of the NGOs represented are associated with local Jewish communities in the two countries.
After receiving an overview of ODIHR’s work on hate crimes, participants were briefed on the technical aspects of the platform, including an explanation of how to customize it to their needs.
The pilot phase will last for approximately three months. The participating NGOs will provide feedback on the platform’s design and functionality, which will be used to improve the tool. The platform is planned to be made available to a broad number of civil society organizations in spring 2018.
“Once fully operational, we hope that this new tool will enhance data collection on bias-motivated incidents across the OSCE region and provide an empirical basis for civil society to advocate for better prevention and response measures,” said James Stockstill, ODIHR Adviser on Civil Society Relations.
“Our meeting showed that there is a growing need for NGOs to collaborate with each other to counter hate crime,” said Anna Zielinska of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. “The platform ODIHR is developing will strengthen the ability of civil society organizations to address this phenomenon.”
16 Nov. 2017
Marking the International Day for Tolerance, ODIHR publishes hate crime data for 2016.
The 2016 data includes information on 44 participating States, including disaggregated official hate crime statistics for 18 countries and a detailed overview of how 34 participating States process and record hate crimes.
We changed how official data is presented and users can now download official data. This is complemented by hate incidents in 48 participating States as reported by 125 civil society groups, the UNHRC and OSCE field operations. Incident information can also be downloaded.
For the first time, incident data reported by these sources can be comprehensively searched, filtered and downloaded. This can be done by country, by bias motivation and by type of incident.
(Extract from an address by Astrid Thors, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities to the OSCE Permanent Council in June 2016, highlights an increase in hate speech targeting national minorities - Page 12)
I have observed increased hate speech targeting national minorities in several of the countries I have visited. Similar observations of increased hate speech have been noted, among others, by the Director of ODIHR and by the Council of Europe including the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) which in December last year issued a policy recommendation on combating hate speech.
The question of decreased tolerance and increase in hate speech is of utmost relevance for a High Commissioner on National Minorities. If left unaddressed, hate speech can lead to acts of violence and contribute to conflict of a wider scale. Preventing hate speech is conflict prevention.
A sign of weakness of our responses is the trend observed by many that hate speech is something used not only by the political extremes, but also the mainstream politicians seem to increasingly resort to it. Divisive rhetoric and the stigmatization of one ethnic community has become even more evident with the migration and refugee crisis. Some forms of hate speech also put different minority groups against each other or migrants against national minorities. Blaming minorities cannot replace addressing structural inequalities and racism and promoting integration with respect for diversity.
A new challenge for the work to combat hate speech and promote tolerance is the perception that the understanding of human rights and the concept of the rule of law have eroded. Even the independence of Parliamentary Ombudsmen or Public Defenders are put into question. My sincere plea is that all of us make renewed efforts: a refocus on education of the basic concepts of human rights and democratic values, a strong commitment by political leaders, elected and State officials to denounce public manifestations of intolerance and discrimination unequivocally and in a timely manner.
The support for civil society working to combat hate speech must be strengthened and public campaigns for human rights and tolerance must be given space in public broadcasting. A better coordination between the structures of OSCE is also needed.
* The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) involves 57 participating States.

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Discrimination against one is discrimination against all
by Audrey Azoulay
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
16 November 2017
Marking International Day for Tolerance, the head of the United Nations cultural agency underscored how tolerance must be nurtured to celebrate the diversity that makes us strong and the values that bring us together.
“Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human,” said Audrey Azoulay, the newly-appointed Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in her message on the International Day.
“Discrimination against one is discrimination against all,” she highlighted.
Ms. Azoulay pointed out that as globalization is accelerating across the world, societies are undergoing deep transformations, which open vast opportunities for dialogue and exchange as well as raise new challenges – sharpened by inequality and poverty, enduring conflicts and movements of people.
“We see today the rise of exclusive politics and discourses of division. We see diversity being rejected as a source of weakness,” she said.
Ms. Azoulay maintained that fuelled by ignorance and sometimes hatred, myths of “pure” lore cultures are being gloried while scapegoating and repressing people.
Also citing “barbaric terrorist attacks designed to weaken the fabric of ‘living together,’” she spotlighted the need that tolerance be more than the indifferent, passive acceptance of others.
“Tolerance must be seen as an act of liberation, whereby the differences of others are accepted as the same as our own,” stressed Ms. Azoulay.
She said that that meant respecting the diversity of humanity on the basis of human rights; reaching out to others with dialogue; and standing up to all forms of racism, hatred and discrimination.
Noting that all cultures are different, she emphasized that “humanity is a single community, sharing values, a past and future.”
“There are seven billion ways of ‘being human,’ but we stand together as members of the same family, all different, all equally seeking respect for rights and dignity,” she underscored.
Ms. Azoulay termed tolerance “a struggle for peace” that calls for new policies that respect diversity and pluralism on the basis of human rights.
“Most of all,” she added, “this calls on each of us, women and men across the world, to act for tolerance in our own lives, in seeking to understand others, in rejecting all racism and hatred, including anti-Semitism.”
The UNESCO chief said its role is “to deepen the binds of a single humanity, through understanding, dialogue and knowledge,” which is why the UN agency defend humanity’s cultural diversity and heritage from pillaging and attacks.
“This is why we seek to prevent violent extremism through education, freedom of expression and media literacy, to empower young women and men. This is why we work to strengthen dialogue between cultures and religions, spearheading the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures,” she said, adding that it was also why “UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities works to fight racism, discrimination, xenophobia and exclusion.”

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