An effective government response to violent hate crimes is difficult, if not impossible, without a clear picture of the extent of the problem, the types of offenses being committed, and the characteristics of the victims. Without adequate monitoring, it is impossible to identify emerging trends or hate crime hotspots, develop strategies for prevention and protection, and determine which groups are most susceptible to violent hate crimes. Without public reporting on the criminal justice response to hate crimes, it is difficult to ensure that adequate legal tools and resources are in place to investigate and prosecute such crimes and to reassure the public that efforts are being made to provide protection from violent forms of discrimination. OSCE states have committed to “collect and maintain reliable data and statistics on hate crimes and incidents.”
Efforts to introduce or enhance already existing monitoring systems are especially important in light of the increasing availability of crime victimization surveys, NGO monitoring, and media reports that suggest that hate crimes are occurring at a significant rate throughout the OSCE region and are seriously underreported to and underrecorded by the authorities.
Within the European Union, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the E.U.’s antiracism and human rights body, has determined that only 11 of the 27 member states have criminal justice data collection systems that can be considered “good” or “comprehensive” in their coverage of hate crimes. Outside of the E.U., only Canada and the United States have well-developed reporting systems. Thus, only 13 of the 56 participating states of the OSCE are fulfilling their basic commitments to monitor hate crimes: Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Over 40 states collect and publish either limited or no information specifically on the incidence of violent hate crimes. Those states include: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Several countries that publish limited information do so more frequently on nonviolent violations of hate speech laws than on violent hate crimes.
Over the past year, a number of countries have introduced improvements in their monitoring and reporting systems. Steps have been taken in at least eleven countries to improve the registration of hate crimes. Three countries have also enhanced the way in which they publicly report on hate crimes, with Canada releasing national data for the first time.
In the absence of government data on all or certain types of hate crimes, NGOs can paint a more accurate picture of the problem and the government response. Yet there are larger gaps in the information than NGOs currently have the capacity to fill. Indeed, increased support and training is sorely needed for NGOs to enhance their monitoring capacity. Nevertheless, in 2008, NGOs in Germany and the United Kingdom conducted surveys that revealed high levels of homophobic violence—a phenomenon that official reporting systems in both countries have largely overlooked.