While it is ultimately the responsibility of governments to monitor and report on the incidence of and response to hate crimes in a transparent way, information from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can begin to fill in some of the gaps of incomplete or nonexistent official reporting. Such information can likewise help to flesh out the hate crime picture in the face of popular media reports that may misrepresent the nature of hate crimes, severely understate their scope, or report only the most extreme bias violence.
NGO monitoring in some parts of the OSCE region has expanded in recent years – in the Russian Federation, for example, the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis has been monitoring and reporting on hate crime incidents and prosecutions since 2004 and has been a particularly useful source of information in the absence of government reporting on hate crime (For more discussion, see the separate section of the 2008 Hate Crime Survey on The Russian Federation). Yet systematic data that allows for an analysis of trends still only exists in a few countries, and often only relates to specific types of hate crime. Furthermore, NGO monitoring is generally limited to incident reports—most NGOs are unable to track the government response to those incidents in any systematic way. In several regions of the OSCE, regular NGO monitoring of hate crimes is largely absent. Thus, there is a need for greater resources, capacity, and training for NGOs to undertake monitoring hate crimes and advocacy for a vigorous government response. Intergovernmental organizations have an important role to play and the OSCE has developed a civil society training program—the first training took place in May 2008—that seeks to enhance the capacity of NGOs working in this field. Yet more support needs to be provided to NGO monitoring and advocacy efforts as part of overall efforts to document and address hate crimes.
In 2007 and 2008, new reports from NGOs in Germany and the United Kingdom—both countries with established official monitoring systems—help to fill in the data deficit as concerns violence against LGBT persons and people with disabilities.
In Germany, for the first time, a nationwide victim survey was conducted among gay and bisexual youths and adults on their experiences with violence. Almost 24,000 people participated in the survey, which was conducted between December 1, 2006 and January 31, 2007 by the nongovernmental organization Maneo. The survey found that 35 percent of all the respondents experienced bias-motivated violence in the past year and almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the young gay and bisexual men under the age of 18 were victims of such violence in the past year. Only 10 percent of the victims filed reports with the police. A second survey was conducted one year later with 17,500 participants, and preliminary data shows that almost 40 percent reported having experienced bias-motivated violence. Maneo expects to release more detailed results from this second survey in Fall 2008.
In the United Kingdom, on June 26, 2008, the U.K.-based NGO Stonewall published Homophobic Hate Crime: The Gay British Crime Survey. This report surveyed approximately 1,721 members of the LGBT community across the United Kingdom. It exposed incidences of verbal abuse and violent hate crimes experienced by individuals who identify as LGBT throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. The report found that 12.5 percent of the respondents had been the victim of a hate crime or incident within the past year (20 percent in the past three years). Four percent of the respondents reported a violent physical assault. Three quarters of the victims of hate crimes and incidents did not report the incident to the police believing that the complaint would not be investigated.
Similarly, surveys of hate crime against the disabled conducted by NGOs in the United Kingdom have shown that disabled people also frequently become victims of hate crime but often fail to report the incident to the police. In those cases in which the incident is reported, in turn, police often failed to register it properly. According to the mental health charity Mind, a recent study showed that three quarters of people with mental health problems have been the victim of crime within the past two years, including “alarming levels of disability hate crime.”