"Freedom from hate" – MRG’s Annual Report on hate crimes across Europe

The Minority Rights Group (MRG), an international rights organization published today its Annual Report focusing on hate crimes and hate speech against minorities in European countries. State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 presents compelling examples and case studies from Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The author of the Hungarian case study is Eszter Jovánovics, Head of the HCLU’s Roma Program.

Hate crime towards minorities is a daily reality across Europe but is often ignored by authorities, says MRG in its annual report. The report shows that asylum seekers, migrants, refugees, and long settled minority populations such as Jews, Muslims and Roma are the groups most often targeted in the region.

The Annual Report’s main findings are the following:

  • Government inaction, for example in data collection, reporting processes or publicity around cases, provides a form of legitimacy to hate.
  • The impact of the 2008 global financial crisis has translated into rising levels of violence and hate towards migrants, and ethnic and religious minorities in many countries.
  • Hate speech and hate crime can also be encouraged by discriminatory government policies.

You can read the MRG’s press release here.

Eszter Jovánovics, Head of the HCLU’s Roma Program shows in her case study (on page 175)  how legislation on hate crime is misused in Hungary against the Roma minority rather than to protect them. “While the conviction, almost five years on, of four people in 2013 for the serial killing of 
six Roma in 2008 and 2009 is a welcome step in the fight against Hungary’s endemic hate crime, the community is still poorly protected against a rising wave of targeted violence.
This is reflected in the fact that the suspected perpetrators were only arrested after their eleventh attack and the subsequent trial lasted 28 months as the court had to gather much of the evidence again to address the shortcomings in the original investigations. However, many other instances of anti-Roma hate crimes are overlooked by police and do not even reach the courts.” “This is in contrast to the speed with which Roma have been accused of anti-Hungarian racist bias and brought to court.” The case study then portrays two criminal procedures in which the Roma defendants acting out of fear and anger against presumed racists were sentenced for anti-Hungarian hate crime. The study concludes by saying: “Institutionalized racism is most likely one of the main reasons for this apparent double standard in Hungary’s law enforcement. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union continues to advocate for the appropriate implementation of the hate crime provision and to address the structural discrimination within the country’s criminal justice system.”

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