ODIHR's impact in 2020: Strengthening Support for Hate Crime Victims
Hate crimes seek to strike fear in the victim and community targeted in the act, sending the message that a particular group is not welcome in society. Repairing the harm done requires a victim-centred response that meets the evolving needs of individual victims, from the moment the hate crime is reported and at every stage of the criminal justice process.
Too often, these needs are overlooked by efforts to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Even when hate crimes are recorded, a lack of co-ordination, communication and capacity among the authorities and specialist service providers can result in a piecemeal approach to meeting the needs of hate crime victims.
In 2020, the Office launched a two-year project to enable stronger support structures and a more collaborative and co-ordinated approach to addressing victims’ needs, titled Enhancing Stakeholder Awareness and Resources for Hate Crime Victim Support (EStAR). The project achieves this by developing a collection of tools and resources to strengthen co-ordination among government agencies and those offering specialist support to hate crime victims, including legal representation, counselling and medical care.
After just a few short months, the EStAR project led to the creation of the first ever network of experts on hate crime victim support, as a well as a digital platform for sharing international standards, good practices and resources. Comprising experts from 41 project countries, the network is designed to function remotely and was largely unaffected by constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the EStAR network members contributed to the drafting of two ODIHR publications and shared their expertise during numerous conferences and webinars. A further 11 publications were planned for publication in 2021 and 2022.
The EStAR project is implemented by ODIHR in partnership with the Association of Counseling Centers for Victims of Right-wing, Racist and Anti-Semitic Violence in Germany (VBRG), with funding from the EU Commission and the Federal Government of Germany.
“The EStAR project’s Network of Experts has provided a unique opportunity to share and build on Austria’s experience in hate crime victim support. One good practice that Austria has drawn from ODIHR’s publications and guidance is the flagging of hate crime victims as especially vulnerable in a new police IT system for recording crimes.”
– Johanna Eteme, a network member and Head of the Austrian Interior Ministry’s Department for Fundamental and Human Rights Affairs.
In Focus: Consultations to improve hate crime recording processes in Belgium
In line with ODIHR’s recommendations, Belgium set up a new working group representing different government agencies and equality bodies tasked with updating national guidelines for police on recording hate crimes – a key step to ensure that hate crimes victims receive the support they need. In 2020, ODIHR held monthly consultations with the working group, and the updated guidelines were published in 2021.