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2018 Hate Crime Data: Frequently Asked Questions

15 November 2019

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 good practices.


2) Where does the information come from?

Governments, civil society groups and international organizations report on hate crime figures 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 that ODIHR reports on?

ODIHR reports on nine bias motivations. These categories are derived from the data submitted to us by participating States as part of ODIHR's mandate to serve as a collection point for hate crime data and information. It is important to note that every state monitors its own bias motivations, based on the local context, which do not necessarily correspond with those we publish on this website.


4) 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.


5) 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 both because of their sex and because of their ethnicity. 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. 


6) 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 figures are displayed as "Official data" on this website.

Hate incidents are those reported by civil society, international organizations and the Holy See. 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". 

Reports on hate incidents from civil society groups play a critical role in our hate crime reporting, complementing and contextualizing the official data. 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. Downloadable files do not include statistical incidents. 


8) 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.


9) What are key observations? 

Key observations can be found at the bottom of each country page, and are prepared by ODIHR based on participating States' commitments on hate crime. The issues addressed 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 numerous programmes to assist governments and law enforcement agencies in meeting their hate crime commitments, and to enable civil society to support these efforts. Read more about them here.