41 OSCE participating States have submitted hate crime information to ODIHR for 2021. Of these, 35 provided statistics, while 23 provided statistics disaggregated by bias motivation.
The official figures are complemented by reports on hate incidents from 114 civil society groups, covering 44 participating States. These contributions amount to 6,391 hate incidents, including 2,363 disaggregated statistical incidents and 4,028 descriptive incidents. This information includes incidents provided by the Holy See, the UNHCR and OSCE missions.
General challenges to reporting hate crimes
Official hate crime data reported to ODIHR for 2021 vary widely from state to state. It is important to note that a lack of official hate crime data does not signal an absence of hate crime, but indicates that states do not have in place the mechanisms and structures to comprehensively record and collect data on hate crimes.
A similar number of states report to ODIHR from year to year. In many cases, states that do collect data on hate crime do not yet have adequate or sufficient mechanisms for recording such crimes. In addition, many states do not identify the bias motivation behind hate crimes, which is the distinctive element of every hate crime, and also fail to distinguish hate crime from other types of crime.
When states lack hate crime data, they are unable to identify the most vulnerable and targeted victim communities. As a result, appropriate policies cannot be created and hate crimes cannot be effectively addressed. More action needs to be taken to identify the true number of hate crimes committed and to provide timely and specialist support for the victims of such crimes.
Hate crimes damage social cohesion and can undermine the security of societies. To address this impact, countries need to do more to raise awareness about the specific nature of hate crimes. This includes increasing the capacities of criminal justice officials to recognize, record, investigate and prosecute hate crimes effectively. Based on ODIHR’s Key Observations for 2021, most states would benefit from raising awareness among and training police and prosecutors as a priority step in tackling hate crime.
Civil society acts as an important bridge between communities and the authorities by monitoring and reporting hate crime, receiving reports from victims and sharing this information. Unfortunately, civil society organizations and human rights defenders are themselves often targeted by hate crimes. To be able to continue their vital work, civil society organizations require recognition, protection, additional support and funding, and should be included in designing policies, strategies and programmes as part of a comprehensive approach to address hate crime.
ODIHR offers participating States a range of resources and tools to help them improve hate crime monitoring, collecting and recording practices, address hate crime victims’ needs, and strengthen co-operation with civil society.