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2015 Hate Crime Data - Frequently Asked Questions

15 November 2016

Find out more about ODIHR's annual reporting on hate crime

What is ODIHR's reporting on hate crime?

Every year, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) releases information on hate crimes and incidents across the region. ODIHR was tasked by OSCE participating States in 2006 to present statistics and information on hate crime legislation, investigation, prosecution and sentencing, as well as to share best practices.

Where does the information come from?

The information ODIHR gathers is provided by governments, civil society groups and international organizations.

Official figures are provided directly by participating States through an online questionnaire developed specifically for them. ODIHR works closely with participating States’ designated national points of contact on hate crime to help them understand our approach and effectively present their information, according to the OSCE framework.

Civil society groups respond to ODIHR’s call for submissions by preparing reports that follow our hate crime reporting methodology. ODIHR also conducts research to identify additional reports relevant to our hate crime reporting.

ODIHR sends formal requests for information to OSCE field operations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). ODIHR also conducts research to identify and summarize reports from a number of other organizations. 

How many countries submitted information in 2015?

Forty-one participating States submitted information to ODIHR for 2015. Of these, 17 provided detailed police statistics according to ODIHR's bias motivations.

We also received information from 113 civil society groups about incidents in 41 countries.

Why do you include information on incidents from civil society?

Reports on hate incidents from civil society groups play a critical role in our hate crime reporting, complementing and contextualizing official figures. Civil society information allows for a better understanding of the impact and nature of hate crimes. This is often the only available information in the absence of official data. This is because some incidents are only reported to civil society groups and not to the authorities, or because different monitoring definitions might be used.

We analyse hundreds of civil society reports and carefully clarify information about specific incidents to ensure that they are accurately reported.

How do you count the incidents reported by civil society displayed on the website?

ODIHR began displaying numbers of incidents reported by civil society per country and per bias motivation in 2014. The incidents included in these tables are those that could be disaggregated by type of incident and by bias motivation.

These numbers are based on the incidents that were reported to ODIHR. Incidents can include more than one victim, but are counted as single incidents.

What are key observations?

Found at the bottom of each country page, key observations are prepared by ODIHR based on the commitments on hate crime made by the participating States. The issues addressed by the observations range from those related to basic commitments, such as the need to periodically report some information or data to ODIHR on hate crimes, to more specific commitments, such as providing data disaggregated by bias motivations, or encouraging victims to report in collaboration with civil society.

These recommendations can draw governments’ attention to potential gaps in their hate crime data collection, and help them help identify areas for improvement.

  • ODIHR has a host of programmes to assist governments, law enforcement agencies and civil society in meeting their hate crime commitments. Read more about them here.

What are the main challenges revealed by ODIHR’s reporting?

There are a number of challenges related to collecting hate crime information. Different countries use different approaches and definitions. Because of this, the information presented is not always comparable across countries. For example, not all countries collect data based on the same bias motivations. 

Changes in data from year to year may say more about recording methodologies than the actual prevalence and impact of hate crimes. For example, higher figures might simply mean that countries are recording hate crimes more diligently or that victims are reporting these crimes to the authorities more often. Simultaneously, lower figures do not necessarily mean that there are fewer hate crimes; they may be an indication of under-reporting by victims or an inability on the part of the authorities to record reported hate crimes.  

Under-reporting remains a key challenge. Many victims do not come forward to report hate crimes. This happens for a number of reasons, ranging from language barriers to mistrust in the authorities or fear of reprisals. ODIHR works closely with civil society to overcome this challenge and promote and assist co-operation between civil society and governments.

It is also difficult to track cases at all stages, from investigation through to sentencing, due to different recording procedures across criminal justice systems. For instance, police forces may use different definitions than prosecutors.