Comment: Without a doubt, this is an important piece of legislation by the European Parliament, which will require EU states to systematically collect data on hate crimes. Even if the Finnish police collects such data, reporting hate crimes to the police may be more complicated for an immigrant than meets the eye.
The key question that we should therefore ask is how seriously does the police take hate crime.
In 2010, the Police College of Finland reported that there were 860 hate crimes reported, which is a 15% fall from 1,007 cases in the previous year.
Does this mean that hate crimes have fallen sharply in Finland or does it show how distrustful some immigrant groups are of the police?
The European Parliament voted today to protect and grant basic rights to the estimated 75 million victims of crime across the EU without discrimination. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) especially welcomes the fact that the specific needs of hate crime victims will be taken into account and that victims will be protected regardless of their residence status.
“The European Parliament’s vote is a great step forward in protecting victims of hate crime in the most appropriate way, and in making sure that irregular migrants – the most vulnerable – are not abandoned to their fate if they fall victim to a crime”, said Chibo Onyeji, ENAR Chair. “We now hope the EU Council of Member States will follow the Parliament’s example”.
Ethnic and religious minority groups face racist crime and violence on a daily basis across Europe but this reality is at worst denied, and at best underestimated.
In addition, evidence shows that hate crimes cause greater harm than ordinary crimes because of the ripple effect it has on entire communities. The 2010-11 British Crime Survey indicates that higher proportions of victims of hate crime reported feelings of shock, fear, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, loss of confidence, difficulty sleeping, compared with victims of similar non-hate crimes.
The report adopted by the European Parliament also calls on EU Member States to systematically collect data on reported crimes and on the victims of crime. This is crucial to assess whether hate crime is on the rise and for the EU to take informed action to tackle the problems identified. “This legislation, once adopted, will send a strong signal to perpetrators of hate crimes that they will not be let off the hook. It is therefore crucial that Member States transpose it into their national laws as soon as possible”, added Onyeji.
More information on racist violence can be found in ENAR’s report Racist violence in Europe.