Demonstrate International Leadership at the OSCE
Advocate in Bilateral Relationships and Offer Technical Assistance
Support Civil Society Organizations
[also available in Russian - PDF]
We call on all governments of the 56 participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to implement the following ten-point plan for combating violent hate crimes within their own countries as well as the recommendations for strengthening the capacity of the OSCE in this area:
- Acknowledge and condemn violent hate crimes whenever they occur. Senior government leaders should send immediate, strong, public, and consistent messages that violent crimes which appear to be motivated by prejudice and intolerance will be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
- Enact laws that expressly address hate crimes. Recognizing the particular harm caused by violent hate crimes, governments should enact laws that establish specific offenses or provide enhanced penalties for violent crimes committed because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental and physical disabilities, or other similar status.
- Strengthen enforcement and prosecute offenders. Governments should ensure that those responsible for hate crimes are held accountable under the law, that the enforcement of hate crime laws is a priority for the criminal justice system, and that the record of their enforcement is well documented and publicized.
- Provide adequate instructions and resources to law enforcement bodies. Governments should ensure that police and investigators—as the first responders in cases of violent crime—are specifically instructed and have the necessary procedures, resources and training to identify, investigate and register bias motives before the courts, and that prosecutors have been trained to bring evidence of bias motivations and apply the legal measures required to prosecute hate crimes.
- Undertake parliamentary, inter-agency or other special inquiries into the problem of hate crimes. Such public, official inquiries should encourage public debate, investigate ways to better respond to hate crimes, and seek creative ways to address the roots of intolerance and discrimination through education and other means.
- Monitor and report on hate crimes. Governments should maintain official systems of monitoring and public reporting to provide accurate data for informed policy decisions to combat violent hate crimes. Such systems should include anonymous and disaggregated information on bias motivations and/or victim groups, and should monitor incidents and offenses, as well as prosecutions. Governments should consider establishing third party complaint procedures to encourage greater reporting of hate crimes and conducting periodic hate crime victimization surveys to monitor underreporting by victims and underrecording by police.
- Create and strengthen antidiscrimination bodies. Official antidiscrimination and human rights bodies should have the authority to address hate crimes through monitoring, reporting, and assistance to victims.
- Reach out to community groups. Governments should conduct outreach and education efforts to communities and civil society groups to reduce fear and assist victims, advance police-community relations, encourage improved reporting of hate crimes to the police and improve the quality of data collection by law enforcement bodies.
- Speak out against official intolerance and bigotry. Freedom of speech allows considerable latitude for offensive and hateful speech, but public figures should be held to a higher standard. Members of parliament and local government leaders should be held politically accountable for bigoted words that encourage discrimination and violence and create a climate of fear for minorities.
- Encourage international cooperation on hate crimes. Governments should support and strengthen the mandates of intergovernmental organizations that are addressing discrimination—like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, and the Fundamental Rights Agency—including by encouraging such organizations to raise the capacity of and train police, prosecutors, and judges, as well as other official bodies and civil society groups to combat violent hate crimes. Governments should also provide a detailed accounting on the incidence and nature of hate crimes to these bodies in accordance with relevant commitments.
Advance the OSCE’s tolerance and nondiscrimination agenda by raising hate crime issues at OSCE forums and advocating the following:
- The fulfillment by participating states of their OSCE obligations to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of intolerance and discrimination, in particular the obligations to collect hate crime data and to report that data to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR).
- The reappointment by the Greek Chairmanship in 2009 of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office’s three personal representatives on tolerance with their distinct mandates.
- Expanded administrative resources, either from the Chairmanship or elsewhere within the OSCE, to support the three Personal Representatives in carrying out their mandates.
- Continued support for the ODIHR’s Tolerance and Nondiscrimination Unit (TnD), in particular to encourage:
- Efforts to ensure that the Law Enforcement Officer Program on Combating Hate Crime (LEOP) has the support it needs and that participating states are taking part in this program.
- The ODIHR to convene regular meetings of the National Points of Contact on Combating Hate Crimes, with the full participation of civil society groups and representatives of specialized anti-discrimination bodies, and consider as a topic in 2009 the building of trust and cooperation between law enforcement agencies and victims, their communities and civil society groups.
- Wide dissemination of the ODIHR’s forthcoming legislative guidelines on hate crimes.
- Agreements between the ODIHR and participating states on programs of technical assistance to combat hate crime.
- Sufficient funding for the TnD unit and its programs and activities on hate crime through the regular OSCE budget and through extra-budgetary contributions.
- Immediate preparations for a high-level conference on combating hate crimes in 2009 in order to generate political support for the implementation of tolerance and nondiscrimination commitments as well as to reinforce the activities of the personal representatives on tolerance and the ODIHR. Action must be taken immediately to identify a host country, develop an agenda and proposed outcomes, and take steps to ensure high-level participation. Because hate crime is a problem that poses serious threats across the region and an issue that combines multiple forms of discrimination and intolerance, this conference could bring together governments and a wide range of civil society actors with a view to developing a common program of action to respond to hate crime while recognizing the unique factors that characterize different types of bias motivation.
- Implementation by participating states of the recommendations from the June 2004 Paris meeting on the internet and hate crimes, as set forth in Decision 633 of the OSCE Permanent Council on Promoting Tolerance and Media Freedom on the Internet.
We call on the government of the United States to demonstrate international leadership at the OSCE, advocate measures to combat hate crime in bilateral relationships, and expand efforts to support civil society organizations throughout the OSCE area, by taking the following steps:
Advance the OSCE’s tolerance and nondiscrimination agenda by taking a leading role in furthering the above-mentioned recommendations related to “Strenghtneing the OSCE.”
Provide for extrabudgetary contributions, secondment of personnel, and other in-kind support for OSCE programs to combat violent hate crimes, including by making available its law enforcement expertise. In this connection, undertake a process to assess and reform the current mechanism of budget allocation by the State Department to ensure that the United States meets its funding obligations to the OSCE in a timely manner.
Promote stronger government responses to violent hate crime among OSCE participating states through U.S. reporting as well as the bilateral relationships of the United States with those countries, by:
- Maintaining strong and inclusive State Department monitoring and public reporting on racist, antisemitic, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Roma and other bias-motivated violence—including by consulting with civil society groups as well as providing appropriate training for human rights officers and other relevant mission staff abroad.
- Raising violent hate crime issues with representatives of foreign governments and encouraging, where appropriate, legal and other policy responses, including those contained in Human Rights First’s ten-point plan for governments to combat violent hate crime and its specific recommendations on the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
- Offer appropriate technical assistance and other forms of cooperation, including training of police and prosecutors in investigating, recording, reporting and prosecuting violent hate crimes as well as translation of Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) materials on hate crimes. Moreover, the FBI’s International Law Enforcement Academy should include a hate crime component in its training of law enforcement personnel in emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
- Organize International Visitors Programs on combating bias-motivated violence for representatives of law enforcement, victim communities, human rights groups and legal advocates.
Expand funding and other support to build the capacity of civil society groups in the OSCE region to combat violent hate crimes, by:
- Providing extra-budgetary support to expand ODIHR’s civil society training program on combating hate crimes.
- Focusing on combating hate crimes in the next phase of USAID’s democracy and governance assistance in Russia in order to expand the capacity of civil society groups in Russia to monitor and report on hate crimes, engage in national and international advocacy and to respond to cases and support victims at the local level.
- Providing funding to expand the network of monitors on violent hate crime by civil society groups in Ukraine.
- Ensuring that groups working to combat all forms of violent hate crime have access to support under existing U.S. funding programs, including the Human Rights and Democracy Fund and programs for human rights defenders.
- Congressional establishment of a long-term funding program at the State Department, USAID or an outside agency to provide financial support for civil society groups in the OSCE region to monitor and report on violent hate crime, to advocate more effective laws and policies and stronger official responses to hate crime incidents, to provide services to victims, and to develop and implement programs to prevent and respond to hate crime.