Wednesday, 26 September 2007

OSCE: Hate Crimes Report

By no means could this report be considered a comprehensive. Reporting and recording hate crime is never an easy task. "Most countries lack accurate data about the nature and extent of hate crimes. This is often compounded by an absence of legislation specifically on hate crimes, making it difficult to prosecute such cases." However, it is a good indication that hate crimes will be taken more seriously. Although this report focuses on 2006, it contains earlier and more recent references too.

Only 5 countries did not respond to the call to submit information for inclusion in this report: Kyrgyzstan, San Marino, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and... Armenia.

However, there are news on some positive developments in this area in Armenia too. A report on homophobic incidents and hate crimes in Armenia has been finilised and soon will be published by WFCE NGO. I look forward to reading it. It could potentially serve a good basis for further and continuous work in this direction, involving, along with homophobia, other types of hate crimes too.

Full OSCE Report on Hate Crimes can be accessed here

Definition of a hate crime

The ODIHR [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights] has developed a working definition of hate crime that can be used across the OSCE region to reflect the diversity of victims targeted. A hate crime can be defined as:

(A) Any criminal offence, including offences against persons or property, where the victim, premises, or target of the offence are selected because of their real or perceived connection, attachment, affiliation, support, or membership of a group as defined in Part B.

(B) A group may be based upon a characteristic common to its members, such as real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other similar factor.

This working definition takes national differences into account, such as differences in legislation, resources, approach and needs, and thus allows each state to amend the definition as it sees fit.


(selected extracts from the Report)

*On 26 August, fans of the Khazar-Lankaran football club harassed a goalkeeper of the Baku club who was of Senegalese origin by chanting racist slogans and throwing objects onto the pitch during a national championship match. The Disciplinary Committee of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan reportedly fined the club the equivalent of 9,000 euros for the incident. [this is apparently the only incident reported by Azerbaijan]

*In Georgia, on 2 November, about 50 people, including secondary-school teachers and pupils, gathered in front of a building belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses and attacked it with stones. The organizer of the incident, who had already committed similar criminal acts against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the past, was jailed.

*During the reporting period, the religious extremist group David Agmashenebeli Society of Orthodox Parish Protesters organized a protest in front of a building assumed to belong to the Catholic Church. The group used anti-Catholic slogans describing Catholics in abusive and offensive language. In a separate event, a Catholic priest experienced physical and verbal abuse during the presentation of a newly released book at the National Library of Georgia. During the event, members of the David Agmashenebeli Society even forced the priest to say he was an Orthodox Christian.

*Explicit instructions for racist attacks on particular individuals in Russia were found on the websites of skinhead groups throughout the year. Some 150 active racist and extremist sites were reportedly maintained on, an Internet portal.

LGBT-related hate crimes

There is relatively large section on homophobic hate crimes (in particular, pages 51-56 and page 74).

(selected extracts)

*Numerous hate-motivated incidents and hate crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people (LGBT) occurred in the OSCE region in 2006. Homophobic and transphobic incidents and crimes targeting LGBT people are believed to be among the most underreported and under-documented, and the perpetrators of such crimes often go unpunished.

*The problem of underreporting and under-documentation can partly be explained by the fact that, out of 56 participating States, only 10 have reported to the ODIHR that they include sexual orientation as grounds for bias and/or an aggravating circumstance within their national hatecrime legislation.

*Homophobic attitudes among law enforcement staff and the belief that reported incidents will not be handled seriously and only lead to a forced “coming out” to family, friends, and colleagues are among the main reasons that victims of homophobic and transphobic crimes and incidents do not report and document their case with the police.

*Homophobic hate crimes and incidents often show a high degree of cruelty and brutality. They are also very likely to result in death. Transgender people seem to be even more vulnerable within this category.

*Media and political discourse have served to heighten hostility and intolerance, as well as to incite violence against LGBT communities in some cases. The main trend that could be identified in 2006 was that leading politicians and public figures, sometimes in positions dealing with antidiscrimination, protecting human rights, and promoting tolerance, were among those engaging in intolerant discourse towards LGBTs.

*Homophobic and transphobic incidents and hate crimes in 2006 were reported to, or identified by, the ODIHR with respect to, among others, Austria, Belarus, Croatia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It should also be noted that two OSCE participating States (Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) criminalize consenting same-sex acts between adults.

*In Georgia, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration stated in an interview that “a mass change of sexual orientation could be more harmful than our youth embarking on the road to organized crime”.

*In the Russian Federation, an online poll among 35,000 users of the website showed that 26.5 per cent of respondents claimed to have suffered from physical violence due to their sexual orientation at least once, whereas almost 40 per cent said they had suffered from threats, blackmail, and psychological pressure. The percentages for provincial towns are higher than for Moscow.

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