Rights group urges governments to do more to combat discrimination
BUCHAREST, Romania Hate crimes are on the rise in many countries, an international human rights group warned Wednesday, June 6, urging governments to do more to combat violent discrimination.
Human Rights First said countries should enact stronger laws that address violent hate crimes to help governments “to more effectively deter, detect, and punish them.”
“Bias-motivated violence remains a serious problem in Europe,” said Maureen Byrnes, executive director of Human Rights First. “While a few governments like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom have undertaken to systematically monitor hate crimes, most governments don’t even collect baseline statistics on the problem.”
The group’s report, which includes hate crime incidents throughout Europe and North America, was published in Bucharest to coincide with a conference by the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe focusing on combating discrimination.
“Prejudice based on race, ethnicity, and national origin continue to be among the principle driving forces behind hatred and intolerance,” the report said, adding that lethal violence was reported in areas of the former Soviet Union.
The groups facing threats of discriminatory violence “include Jews and Muslims, who confront virulent combinations of racism and religious intolerance, the Roma and Sinti, and minority Christian faiths in Russia, Turkey, and the Central Asian republics.” The survey focuses on France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, where hate crimes have been on the rise in recent years.
In Russia, there were 540 cases of violent hate crimes, including 54 murders, in 2006, the report said. In Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on Oct. 25, five men described as skinheads attacked and murdered 44-year-old Dr. Godknows Mievi, of Nigerian origin. In Britain there was a dramatic surge of racist and religiously motivated violence after July 7, 2005, bombings, with religiously motivated hate crimes rising 600 percent in London in the month after the bombings. Overall in 2006, hate crimes in the United Kingdom continued at a historically high rate, the report said.
In Europe and North America, authors of anti-Semitic threats and attacks frequently invoke Israel and Israeli policies as justification even while employing the language and symbols of Nazi Germany. Discrimination and violent attacks against Muslims follow a similar pattern.
Underscoring the report’s findings, two men leaving a Bucharest cinema which hosted the annual “Gay Fest” festival were attacked and beaten by eight attackers recently, according to the gay rights group Accept. Police intervened to stop the attack and arrested several suspects.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 15, 2007.