The Council Conclusions on combating hate crime in the European Union in December 2013 invited FRA to work together with Member States to facilitate the exchange of promising practices and assist the Member States at their request in their efforts to develop effective methods to encourage reporting and ensure proper recording of hate crimes. In response, FRA established a Working Party on Hate Crime to assist Member States in designing and implementing such measures. It was set up jointly with the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2014 after 27 Member States had shown interest by appointing 59 public officials from their prime minister’s office, ministries of interior, justice and social affairs, police services and police training institutions, and national parliaments.
Article 1 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantees the right to human dignity, while Article 10 stipulates the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 21 prohibits discrimination based on any ground, including sex, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability. To combat hate crime, the EU and its Member States need to make these crimes more visible and hold perpetrators to account. Numerous rulings by the European Court of Human Rights oblige countries to ‘unmask’ the bias motivation behind criminal offences. Efforts to formulate targeted policies for combating hate crime are hampered by under-recording, i.e. the fact that few EU Member States collect comprehensive data on such offences. In addition, a lack of trust by hate crime victims in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems means that the majority of them do not report their experiences, leading to under-reporting – as repeatedly demonstrated by several FRA reports.
The inaugural meeting of the Working Party was held in Rome in November 2014 with 25 Member States, the European Commission and the OSCE’S Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The following actions were discussed:
- adoption of the Working Party’s terms of reference (which form the baseline for all Working Party members to facilitate the exchange of practices on how to combat hate crime.
- establishment of three sub-groups (as agreed at the hate crime seminar convened by FRA in April 2014 in Thessaloniki) on the following topics:
- encouraging victims to report and improving recording of hate crime;
- enhancing multi-agency partnerships;
- training for public service providers.
- Adoption of a plan of activities for each of the three sub-groups.
Overview of Working Party activities:
- Joint seminar in cooperation with the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU on How can EU Member States combat hate crime? Encouraging reporting and improving recording (Thessaloniki, April 2014)
- Core Group meeting (Vienna, July 2014)
- Inaugural meeting (Rome, November 2014)
- Second meeting, in cooperation with the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU (Riga, March 2015)
- Workshop on Reporting and recording of hate crime (London, March 2015)
- Workshop on Guiding principles for hate crime training (Vienna, August 2015)
- Multi-agency partnership to improve hate crime recording (Madrid, October 2015)