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New FRA Opinion brings into the spotlight the victims of hate crimes

2013 11 07
New FRA Opinion brings into the spotlight the victims of hate crimes

On 22 October, the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has issued an opinion illustrating how hate crime can vary from everyday acts committed by individuals on the street or over the Internet, to large-scale crimes carried out by extremist groups or totalitarian regimes (Opinion).

The Opinion assesses the impact of the 2008 Framework Decision  on the rights of the victims of crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice, including racism and xenophobia. The 2008 Framework Decision establishes,for the first time, legally binding minimum standards for counter-acting severe forms of racism and xenophobia by the means of criminal law across the European Union (EU).

Acknowledging the significance of the Framework Decision in the effort to combat hate crimes, FRA outlines its certain limitations, such as a limited appreciation of the hate crimes victims rights, and a narrow scope which excludes discrimination based on sex, disability, age or sexual orientation. 
 
In the Opinion, FRA also identifies areas of concern where the EU action „could and should improve the situation of the rights of victims of hate crime.“ To this end, FRA proposes 24 Action measures presenting the full range of considerations, from data collection, awareness-raising, and building trust in police to enhanced penalties and judicial review.
 
Together with other FRA work in the area, the Opinion feeds into the Fundamental Rights Conference Combating hate crime in the EU, organised by the FRA in cooperation with the Lithuanian Presidency on 12-13 November in Vilnius.
 
The Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) will participate at the Fundamental Rights Conference and present its recent study Hate Crimes Victims‘ Rights: the case of Lithuania“ which assesses the ability of Lithuanian legal and law enforcement system to respond efficiently to hate crimes while taking into account the victims’ rights. 
 
On 14 November, as a follow-up to the Fundamental Rights Conference, HRMI as the NGO Programme Lithuania Operator  together with the the Financial Mechanism Office will host NGO Programme Operators Thematic Meeting on Hate Speech & Hate Crimes and Role of Civil Society.  The meeting aims to consolidate the knowledge of the hate issues as well as strategize further programmatic steps. Participants of the meeting will include experts of Fundamental Rights Agency, Council of Europe and relevant NGOs, including NGOs from Donor States (Norway).
 
The full text of the Opinion is available here.
 
For more information on the Fundamental Rights Conference see here.
 
For introduction into the topic of hate speech and hate crimes in Lithuania see Hate Speech in Lithuania: Frequently Asked Questions.