Violence and crimes motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance or by a person’s disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and other biases – often referred to as ‘hate crime’ – are a daily reality throughout the EU, as data collected by FRA and other actors consistently show.
Hate crime harms not only those targeted. It also sends a signal to other persons who feel that they are at risk of being labelled and treated like the victim. Moreover, the bias motivated offence, when understood as a statement about persons who (are thought to) bear a certain characteristic, has the potential to incite followers. The impact of hate crime thus reaches far beyond the immediate interaction between offender and victim.
As such hate crimes call into question the basic concept and self-understanding of modern pluralist societies, which is based on the notion of individual human dignity. Hence, it strikes at the heart of EU commitments to democracy and the fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination.
However, victims of crimes motivated by bias and prejudice are often unable or unwilling to seek redress against perpetrators. Many of these crimes remain unreported, unprosecuted and, therefore, invisible. In such cases, the rights of victims of crime may not be fully respected or protected and Member States may not be upholding obligations they have towards victims of crime.
The Fundamental Rights Conference will therefore invite decision makers and practitioners to explore effective strategies to combat crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice at the national as well as EU level. Discussions will address the most pertinent issues relevant for policy making in the field, among them:
- Existing evidence on the extent of hate crime;
- Underreporting of crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice;
- Gaps in hate crime monitoring and recording;
- Legal instruments pertaining to hate crime in the EU;
- Victim support services;
- Effective practices of investigation and prosecution;
- Discriminatory aspects of hate crime;
- Human rights education and remembrance;
- Capacity building for law enforcement and criminal justice systems;
- Challenges of cyberhate;
… and other issues.
Existing legal and policy measures
Conference discussions will take place in the context of current legal and policy framework to combat crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice in the EU. Discussions will place particular focus on the implementation of the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law aiming to inform the revision of this decision foreseen for the end of 2013; as well as recently adopted EU Victims’ Directive (2012/29/EU), establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protecting of victims of crime.