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Home / Press Release / Secretary Kerry Urged to Confront Hate Crime During Upcoming OSCE Meeting
November 26, 2013

Secretary Kerry Urged to Confront Hate Crime During Upcoming OSCE Meeting

Washington, DC – Today, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Human Rights First urged Secretary of State John Kerry to use the United States’ participation in the upcoming Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting as a platform to elevate the need for governments to take action against anti-Semitism, hate crime and all forms of discrimination.

“ODIHR’s hate crime work is just one outgrowth of the leadership of the United States in making the OSCE a leading forum for highlighting the problem of anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and for engaging governments in response and prevention,” wrote ADL’s Stacy Burdett and Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke. “We have long welcomed our engagement with the State Department in making the OSCE a forum for elevating the need for governments to take action against anti-Semitism, hate crime and all forms of discrimination.”

The upcoming December 5-6 OSCE meeting in Kyiv comes on the heels of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ (ODIHR) recent release of its latest annual hate crime report. The report is based on submissions from OSCE-member governments, NGOs, and inter-governmental organizations. While the annual report is an important tool in understanding the nature and frequency of hate crimes across the OSCE region, its findings are undermined when states either don’t collect data at the national level or fail to contribute their findings to the ODIHR in a timely manner.

Each year, ADL and Human Rights First partner to convert the ODIHR’s information into a scorecard that assesses the performance of OSCE participating States in specific areas of monitoring and addressing hate crimes, a review that they included with today’s letter to Secretary Kerry. This year’s assessment of the ODIHR’s report again found a lack of progress in member states fulfilling their commitments to collect hate crimes data. 

According to ADL and Human Rights First’s assessment of the ODIHR’s recent report, only 35 of 57 participating OSCE states submitted completed questionnaires covering 2012, and another six participating States sent in general information. Yet of the 41 that submitted some information, only 27 actually submitted official statistics.

The groups note that during the period from 2008-2012, 51 countries have at some point indicated that they do collect some hate crime data, but far fewer have responded consistently to ODIHR’s annual requests for timely and updated information. The quality of the data collected and submitted is in most cases insufficient and falls short of what states have committed to collect. In its assessment, ADL and Human Rights First detail a number of steps that OSCE member nations should take to address this serious problem. The groups are urging the U.S. State Department to be a vocal support of changes that will permit the OSCE to get a comprehensive and complete look at the extent of hate crime in the region.

Burdett and Stahnke wrote, “We call on you to ensure that the United States continues to be a leader on these issues by urging participating States during the plenary session of the Ministerial Council Meeting and in relevant bi-lateral meetings to fulfill their commitments to monitor hate crime and to confront anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.”

For more information about today’s letter or ADL and Human Rights First’s assessment of the ODIHR’s hate crime report, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.