The Human Rights First 2007 Hate Crime Survey is a review of the rising tide of hate crimes covering the region from the far east of the Russian Federation and the Central Asian states across Europe to North America: the 56 participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
In releasing this survey, Human Rights First documents and analyzes the reality of racist violence and other forms of intolerance. We have reviewed available reports on violence motivated by prejudice and hatred, including the findings of the handful of official monitoring systems that provide meaningful statistical information. This data, combined with the findings of nongovernmental monitoring organizations, provides important insights into the nature and incidence of violent hate crimes.
Our aim is to raise the profile of these insidious crimes and the challenges they pose to societies and communities that are becoming increasingly diverse. Many of these crimes are the everyday occurrences of broken windows, physical assaults, burnt out homes, and violent intimidation that are a consequence of prejudice and hatred. Our emphasis is on the violence at the sharp edge of discrimination and what can be done about it. This report seeks to overcome official indifference and indecision in the fight against discriminatory violence. This general survey is accompanied by three companion surveys which look in greater detail at specific forms of discrimination and violence: antisemitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia.
This survey builds upon the findings of Human Rights First’s 2005 report Everyday Fears: A Survey of Violent Hate Crimes in Europe and North America, which similarly addressed antisemitic and other racist and religiously-motivated violence as well as violence motivated by biases based on gender, disability, and sexual orientation. In that report, we also examined government responses to hate crimes in each of the OSCE participating states and found that only a handful of governments had taken concrete measures to effectively monitor, respond to, and prevent hate crimes.
The response of governments has not markedly improved since then. Human Rights First continues to believe that governments need to do more to combat violent discrimination. In this survey, we offer a series of recommendations to governments with a view to moving forward in combating violent hate crimes. In particular, we are urging governments to strengthen criminal law and law enforcement procedures required to combat hate crimes. Stronger laws that expressly address violent hate crimes are important tools if governments are to more effectively deter, detect, and punish them. We likewise call on governments to establish systems of official monitoring and data collection to fill the hate crime information gap. This is an essential means to assess and respond to patterns of discriminatory violence affecting particular population groups.