Euro governments “must do better” on hate crimes

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A majority of European governments get a poor grade in their efforts to tackle violent hate crimes, according to Human Rights First’s 2007 Hate Crime Report Card.

Released today at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Tel Aviv, the new study examines monitoring and reporting systems as well as the enforcement of hate crime laws in the 56 states that comprise the OSCE.

Those states include the Russian Federation and the Central Asian states, Western Europe, the United States and Canada.

The report is a follow-up to Human Rights First’s 2007 Hate Crime Survey, which documented the disturbing rise in hate crimes across the OSCE region.

The report released today examines government efforts to combat these violent hate crimes.

Human Rights First concludes that only 15 of the 56 participating states of the OSCE are fulfilling their basic commitments to monitor hate crimes, with countries in the European Union and North America leading the way.

While more than 30 countries have legislation that allows for penalty enhancements when crimes are motivated by bias, there is little evidence that these provisions are applied in a systematic fashion in most countries.

“Europe has seen a worrying rise in hate crimes in recent years,” said Maureen Byrnes, executive director of Human Rights First.

“What’s deeply troubling is that many states still fail to use the tools necessary to investigate and punish the perpetrators of such violence as a matter of priority, suggesting an underlying indifference.”