You are here

2017 Hate Crime Data: Frequently Asked Questions

15 November 2018

Find out more about how ODIHR compiles data on hate crimes.

1) Why does ODIHR publish hate crime data every year?

ODIHR publishes information on hate crimes and incidents across the region because it was tasked by OSCE participating States to present statistics and information on hate crime legislation, investigation, prosecution and sentencing, as well as to share best practices.


2) Where does the information come from?

Governments, civil society groups and international organizations report hate crimes, incidents and developments to ODIHR. We then review this information to ensure that it falls within the OSCE’s definition of hate crime before publication. 


3) What are the bias motivations ODIHR reports on?

ODIHR reports on nine bias motivations. These categories are derived both from the bias motivations that we were directly mandated by OSCE participating States to report on (such as racism and xenophobia and bias against Roma and Sinti people) and those based on the data that are submitted to us by participating States (such as bias against people with disabilities or bias based on sex).

It is important to note that every state monitors its own bias motivations, based on local needs, which do not necessarily correspond with those we publish on this website.


4) Can one incident have more than one bias motivation? How does ODIHR record a hate incident that has more than one bias motivation? 

Yes, in some cases a hate incident can have more than one underlying bias motivation. For example, a victim might be targeted because of her or his sex, as well as her or his ethnicity and religion. In these cases, an incident will be shown as having multiple bias motivations and will be presented in all the relevant categories on the website. 


5) What is the difference between a hate crime and an incident? 

In the data presented on this website, hate crimes refer to criminal acts as recorded and reported by local authorities. These are usually recorded by police and then processed through criminal justice systems. These official figures are displayed as "Official data" on this website.

Civil society, international organizations and the Holy See report hate incidents. While these incidents might constitute hate crimes, they are not necessarily officially verified by the local authorities. ODIHR reviews every hate incident reported to us, ensuring that each falls within the scope of the OSCE definition of hate crime. These incidents are published under the heading "Incidents reported by other sources". 


6) 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. Information from civil society 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 or statistical data to ensure that they are accurately reported.


7) What are the differences between statistical and descriptive incidents? 

Statistical incidents are numbers disaggregated by country, bias motivation and type of incident. These numbers appear in the overview of incidents provided for each state, but are not included in the descriptive tables below these graphics.

Descriptive incidents comprise detailed descriptions that were submitted to ODIHR. These incidents were reviewed, summarized and disaggregated by country, bias motivation and type of incident. These incidents are displayed in tables that also include the reporting organization and are available for download on country pages. It is important to note that downloadable files do not include statistical incidents. 


8) Do higher numbers of hate crime or incidents published on this website mean a country has a higher hate crime rate?

No, these figures simply show that more hate crimes or incidents were reported to ODIHR for a particular bias motivation or country. They do not show the prevalence of hate crime and cannot be used to compare between countries or bias motivations. A number of factors can explain varying numbers, including how state authorities classify and record the information, and how active civil society is in monitoring specific bias motivations. 


9) Why do the numbers for incidents not always match on country pages and bias motivation pages?

Because of the presence of statistical incidents, the total number of incidents presented in graphics will not always be the same as the number of descriptive incidents available in the relevant tables. An explanatory note will be visible when this is the case. All of the incidents displayed on were disaggregated by type of crime, by bias motivation and by country.

Some incidents involve more than one type of crime or bias motivation. As such, the total number of incidents might be lower than the total number of columns disaggregated by bias motivation and by type of crime.

Finally, incidents can include more than one victim or more than one perpetrator, but are counted as single incidents.


10) 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 identify areas for improvement.

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