In 2016 the European Commission asked the Agency to join its High Level Group to combat racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, which serves to foster the further exchange and dissemination of best practices between national authorities and concrete discussions on how to fill existing gaps and better prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech. The Commission also asked FRA to coordinate a Subgroup reporting back to the High Level Group that will work to develop methodologies for recording and collecting data on hate crime. The Agency has been working with the Commission and Member States on hate crime since the Council invited FRA to facilitate exchange of promising practices to encourage reporting and recording of hate crime in December 2013. FRA has established a Working Party on Hate Crime and published an online compendium of relevant good practices in 2016.
To combat hate crime effectively, incidents must be made more visible, perpetrators held to account and their victims supported. The Victims Directive (Directive 2012/29/EU) obliges Member States to identify victims of hate crimes at their first contact with police officers in order to offer them appropriate information to access their victim rights taking into account their specific needs and personal circumstances. Numerous rulings by the European Court of Human Rights oblige countries to ‘unmask’ the bias motivation behind criminal offences. In addition, FRA’s research consistently demonstrates large discrepancies remain in how Member States record and collect data on hate crime. The result is that many hate crimes remain unreported, unprosecuted and therefore invisible.
The High Level Group recognises that the proper identification and recording of hate crime is the first step in ensuring that offences are investigated and, where necessary, prosecuted and sanctioned. The High Level Group also agrees that the immediate focus of the Subgroup during the first two-year period (2017-2018), should be on identifying ways to improve the recording of hate crime by law enforcement officers.
On 5 December 2017, during its fourth meeting, the High Level Group endorsed the Key guiding principles on hate crime recording drawn up by the Subgroup. The Subgroup has identified these principles on the basis of systematic consultation, gathering input from representatives of relevant national authorities, the European Commission, FRA, ODIHR, ECRI, and civil society organisations. The five three guiding principles concern organisational and structural aspects, and operational and everyday police work.
The principles are being tested and implemented through country workshops and activities. The workshops aim to raise awareness of the need to properly record hate crimes, to identify gaps in existing hate crime recording and data collection frameworks, and to discuss practical steps to improve these frameworks.
The first workshop took place in Tallinn, Estonia on 8 December 2017. Workshops in other Member States are planned for 2018, beginning with Portugal and Slovakia, as one of the outcomes of the Subgroup” with “By March 2018, workshops in four Members States were organised - in Estonia, Lithuania, Portugal and Poland.
The members of the Subgroup are:
- EU Member States
- European Commission
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
- Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
- Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
- European Union umbrella civil society organisations: the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
- the European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)
- A Jewish contribution to an Inclusive Europe (CEJI)
Other international organisations, relevant EU bodies and agencies, national human rights bodies or civil society organisations will be invited to contribute to the Subgroup on a case-by-case basis.
- High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance on Justice and Consumers website;
- Additional information on groups and subgroups can be found in the Register of Commission expert groups and other similar entities.