Headlines 26 November, 2010
TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE EVENT ATTACKED IN UKRAINE
In Kyiv, Ukraine, on 20th of November 2010, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance of those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred, unknown persons attacked the peaceful gathering organized by NGO "Insight" and Visual Culture Center - "Response to violence against transgender people". The organizers planned the film screening, discussion and flash-mob with paper lanterns.
22/11/2010- About ten unknown men broke into the Visual Culture Center while "Boys Don’t Cry" film was being screened. Obviously, the attackers had planned to break into the showing room with over thirty spectators, and attack them with tear-gas. However, due to prompt reaction of organizers and activists, attackers were stopped at the entrance and retained out of the room. One of the organizers coordinator of transgender programme in NGO "Insight" Timur Lysenko, who first confronted bandits blocking their access to the room, was beaten up. He and his colleague Anastasia Medco from NGO "Fulcrum", who also resisted the bandits, were heavily poisoned by tear-gas. The attackers fled the scene. Timur was diagnosed with internal injuries and facial chemical burn. All spectators present in the room during the attack suffered from tear-gas.
Arrived police pre-qualified attack as "hooliganism". However, the tactic of attackers clearly indicates preplanning and intention: attackers were wearing masks, they had weapons, their actions were consistent and deliberate, and they fled the scene at once. The event dedicated to Transgender Day of Remembrance was announced in advance that allowed preplanning and organizing the attack. It was made on the basis of anti-transgender hatred and homophobia. Such actions should be classified under item 3 of Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: "Deliberate acts aimed at stirring [...] hatred, [...], as well as direct or indirect restriction of rights [...] on the basis of race, color of the skin, political, religious and other beliefs, gender, ethnicity or social origin, property status, place of residence, language or any other characteristic".
At the moment, several claims have been submitted to the police by aggrieved participants of the event. Organizers insist that authorities recognize the attack as pre-planned organized hate crime. Transgendered people are often subjected to violence perpetrated by hatred. According to TGEU research project on transphobia more than 420 murders of trans persons have been reported since 2008 worldwide. In Ukraine due to the lack of monitoring system and reluctance of law enforcement agencies to classify such cases as hate crimes, the problem of xenophobia and hatred based violence remains invisible.
Number of ultra right-wing attacks on peaceful gatherings on LGBT rights and discrimination has increased for the past two years. In May 2010, two men tried to bring a smoke bomb into the cinema during film screening within the LGBT Festival Queer Week. In September 2009, both presentations of queer anthology 120 pages of Sodom held in Lviv and Kyiv were attacked by ultra right-wing groups followed by physical violence against participants. On the night of September 30, 2009 the Kyiv art center "I Gallery" was burned down following the discussion on attacks of queer anthology presentations and official ban of the film "Bruno". Homophobic inscriptions were left on the walls of the burnt gallery.
© Insight Ukraine
GREEK POLICE PREVENTED ARSON ATTACK AGAINST THE ATHENS SYNAGOGUE (Greece)
26/11/2010- Two young men were arrested last Tuesday by the police and charged with attempting an arson attack against the Synagogue of Athens. The two men were stopped for control by the police while riding a motorcycle without plates. They were carrying all components for the construction of Molotov explosive mechanisms, thus, a bottle of gasoline, empty bottles and rugs. After searching their houses, the police found and confiscated –inter alia- 20 litres of gasoline. During police questioning, the two men expressed their ultra-nationalist ideology and they confessed that they were planning an attack against the Synagogue of Athens. The police announced that the arrested have no prior criminal record and are not officially listed members of any extremist organization. State Security Agency has opened a preliminary investigation on the case, while the arrested were brought before the Prosecutor. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued a press release recognizing the promptness of the police in preventing the attack. “Such criminal attempts are the result of anti-Semitic feelings that are systematically cultivated and incited by various circles. Society has to be alert and mobilized to fight against the manifestations of racism and anti-Semitism, taking also into consideration the dangers deriving from the increase of these phenomena”, the press release concludes.
© The European Jewish Congress
ROMANI YOUTH SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS OVER RACIST ASSAULT (Czech Rep.)
A Romani boy, 16, who brutally beat up a Czech boy, aged 12, in Krupka, north Bohemia, in April was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in prison as the court identified with all counts of the indictment, including robbery, blackmail with racist motive, and rape, and also requalified the crime as attempted murder in complicity.
25/11/2010- A Romany boy, 16, who brutally beat up a Czech boy, aged 12, in Krupka, north Bohemia, in April was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in prison as the court identified with all counts of the indictment, including robbery, blackmail with racist motive, and rape, and also requalified the crime as attempted murder in complicity. The court did not sentence another boy who was involved in the crime since he was underage at the time of the crime. The incident occurred in late April. According to the police, the assailants wanted to rob the boy, but when they found out he had nothing with him, they brutally beat up and raped him. The boy was seriously wounded and had a torn spleen. A few days after the attack, its photos were placed on the Internet. The incident was taken up by some far right movements that compared it with an arson attack on a Romany family.
Judge Kamila Elsnicová said the Romany boys' conduct was an obvious lynching. In October, daily Pravo brought gruesome details of the attacks. The assailants asked the boy whether he knew what Hitler was doing with Gypsies in concentration camps. They said now they would do the same with him, Pravo wrote. "They ordered him to crawl, to undress to his underwear and to go into a brook where he had to make push-ups and the headstand," Pravo writes. "Then he had to dress again and they started beating him together with their fists, treading on him," it adds. "With big force, they kicked his ribs, head and other bodily parts. He was forced to lean on a tree and they whipped him with a belt on his bare back," Pravo wrote. "In the event, they lifted him with his arms and legs and let him fall to the ground," it added. The two perpetrators then let him lie on the ground and quit, Pravo wrote. In the miserable state, the boy was still able to crawl to a railway station where help was called in. Doctors say he only miraculously escaped death, Pravo wrote.
The victim lives in a children's home where he is considered one of the most decent boys and one of the few who study at a secondary school. The court said yesterday that the boy would have long-standing serious trauma and was using antidepressants. The sentenced boy is illiterate with IQ 41, which means imbecility. "However, it must be clear even to an imbecile that such an assault on a boy weighing 35 kilos can cause death," judge Kamila Elsnicova said. The other assailant is not prosecuted as he only turned 15 this September. At present, he is in a youth correctional facility. Reports on him are very negative. He threatens to kill both the staff and inmates, Elsnicova said. "He is cynical, absolutely without scruples. I dare say we will soon see him here in a different role," she added.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
NEARLY 150 PEOPLE ARRESTED IN LONDON HATE-CRIME RAIDS(uk)
26/11/2010- Police have arrested 147 people across London in dawn raids to tackle domestic violence and hate crimes. Suspects were arrested for offences ranging from violence and common assault to breach of court orders. Raids took place on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day. They were part of the Metropolitan Police's (Met's) Operation Athena, where officers target suspected hate-crime offenders.
While focusing on violence against women, the raids also targeted suspected racist, homophobic and disability motivated crime, as well as crimes against the vulnerable or elderly. "We are taking a proactive approach in order to bring those responsible to justice and support the victims of these heinous crimes," said Det Supt Darren Williams, head of the Met's public protection unit. "My key message to victims of these offences is tell us what is happening so we can help you but if you can't tell the police, tell someone." London's deputy mayor for policing Kit Malthouse said: "There is no place in London for domestic violence and those arrested this morning found out first hand. "I want to reassure Londoners that there is zero tolerance in the capital for these cowardly crimes and all perpetrators will be dealt with swiftly and severely."
© BBC News
PORTSMOUTH MUSLIM ACADEMY TARGET OF HATE CRIMES (uk)
25/11/2010- A Muslim academy in Portsmouth has been the target of two hate crimes in the past fortnight, police have said. In the first incident, a brick with a racist message on it was thrown into the Portsmouth Muslim Academy, on Old Commercial Road, on 13 November. A beer bottle was then thrown through a window at the front of the building last Friday. The city's Jami Mosque was also targeted twice in two days on 12 and 13 November. The mosque was first attacked a day after an Islamic group, Muslims Against Crusades, burned remembrance poppies in London during a two-minute silence to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day.
A poppy was subsequently painted on the front of the mosque, on Victoria Road North in Southsea, and 100 people staged a demonstration outside. The mosque's imam, Muhammad Muhi Uddin, said he had condemned the poppy burning and was mystified as to why the building had been targeted. One man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence. Police said they were treating the incidents of criminal damage at the Portsmouth Muslim Academy as hate crimes. Insp Fiona Quade, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "My officers regularly conduct patrols in the area around Old Commercial Road, but if you saw what happened, could identify a suspect or know who did this, please get in touch. "We've already got an investigation ongoing into the disorder at demonstrations outside the Jami Mosque."
© BBC News
MORE HATE CRIME BEING REPORTED IN NORTH WALES (uk)
25/11/2010- Nearly 1,800 race hate crimes have been reported to North Wales Police in the past five years – with young people the worst offenders. In all the force has dealt with more than 2,100 hate crime complaints in that period, from racially aggravated physical attacks to homophobic taunts. Children as young as 10 were involved in the hate offences. North Wales Police revealed of the 1,775 racially aggravated crimes reported since 2005, 641 were committed by youngsters aged between 10 and 19. A further 387 offences were committed by people aged between 20 and 29. Hate crimes are broken down into five categories including race and the Welsh language, religion and belief, disability, sexual orientation and transgender. A hate crime is one motivated by the offender's hatred of people because they are seen as different.
A Gwynedd kebab shop owner, who asked not to be named, said he was more likely to be racially abused by young people than anyone else: “They have no respect towards other people or themselves.” An Asian man said last night: “It’s not as bad as it can be in other parts of Britain but it can spoil a night out to be racially abused for simply walking down the street.” Figures show the number of racially aggravated incidents reported in the Wrexham area increasing during the past three years. Last year 109 incidents were reported, up from 91 in 2008 and 88 in 2007. The 484 incidents reported in the area over five years are the highest for the North Wales Police force area with Conwy recording 415 incidents and Gwynedd 379.
But Gillian Grainger, Community Cohesion Coordinator at Wrexham Council, put the rise down to the proactive approach to hate crime taken in the county. She said: “Victims are encouraged to report incidences of hate crime and receive the necessary support and guidance they may need. “The projects are all part of a multi agency approach we are taking in the county borough that are showing positive results." A North Wales Police spokesman added: “We are committed to the promotion of equality and diversity within the force and within the communities it serves. “We have designated Diversity Officers to help and support victims of hate crimes and incidents and ensure the Force Hate Crime Policy and Divisional Hate Crime Protocols are fully applied in all Hate Incidents and Hate Crimes. “Strenuous efforts have been made in recent years to increase reassurance and the level of care to victims of hate crime generally.”
© The Daily Post
NEW HATE CRIME STATS OVERSHADOWED BY RECENT INCIDENTS (usa)
24/11/2010- A recent trend on University of Wisconsin campuses could overshadow a new report about hate crimes in Wisconsin. That report says hate crimes are down statewide, dropping more than 35-percent last year. "We feel that anytime you're reporting less crime, that's a positive sign, certainly. It would be great if we had no violent and property crimes to report," says Tami Jackson of the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance. That report compiled data from reports filed last year. So far this year, several incidents have been reported on UW System campuses. Six of those happened at UW-Stout since the first of the month, with each report having to do with discrimination based on sexual orientation. UW-Platteville reported 25 cases of racial discrimination since the start of the school year, and UW-Whitewater has also had incidents. The state says many of the incidents would be considered hate crimes by the FBI because threats were made targeting the victim's race or sexual orientation. "If there is vandalism that would certainly look like it's motivated in whole or in part by an offender bias, that will meet the FBI's definition for reporting a hate crime," adds Jackson. No arrests have been made in the Stout incidents. As News 18 reported Monday, those responsible could be suspended from school. The FBI says they could also be charged with hate crimes.
© WQOW News
OSCE HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE, HUNGARIAN AUTHORITIES TO CO-OPERATE IN COMBATING HATE CRIMES AGAINST ROMA (Hungary)
23/11/2010- Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today said his Office would work with Hungary's authorities to combat hate crimes against Roma. Speaking at a meeting on the recommendations included in an ODIHR report on the situation of Hungarian Roma published earlier this year, Lenarcic noted that Hungary has done much to promote the integration of Roma. But he also stressed that a series of killings of Roma in 2008 and 2009, which prompted the ODIHR report, showed the importance of intensifying efforts to counter any incitement to violence and to unequivocally condemn all forms of violence against Roma at the highest political level. "Hungary is by no means the only country in Europe that faces the challenge of integrating Roma into mainstream society. But with its experience in addressing this challenge, Hungary is uniquely placed to redouble its efforts and lead the way by example," Lenarcic said. He added that Hungary's upcoming EU presidency offered an opportunity to prioritize the integration of Roma a priority also at the European level.
In the meeting with top Hungarian officials, Lenarcic offered ODIHR support to the Hungarian authorities in the field of combating violence against Roma, including by developing a training programme on identifying and investigating hate crimes. Other areas of co-operation could include activities to strengthen trust between Roma and the police force. All OSCE participating States committed themselves to improving the situation of Roma and Sinti minorities in an Action Plan adopted in 2003, including by combating violence and discrimination. The ODIHR report on the situation of Roma in Hungary is based on the findings of a field visit conducted following the killings of 2008 and 2009. It includes a list of recommendations on how to move ahead with fighting violence and improve integration.
© The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
26/11/2010- 28 November is the deadline for transposition of the EU ‘Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law’ into national law. On this occasion, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) calls on all EU member states to adequately transpose the standards set in this key instrument in the fight against racist abuse urgently and to live up to the commitment they made two years ago. The Framework Decision, adopted by EU member states in November 2008, aims to step up protection against offences involving racism and xenophobia in a consistent and effective manner across the EU. It states that such behaviour must constitute a criminal offence in all member states and be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties. It will thus prevent scenarios whereby, for example, racist literature can be published in a country where it is not an offence to do so with the objective of dissemination in a state where it is an offence.
The rising tendency of racism, xenophobia and far-right extremism across Europe is a reminder of the urgent need to implement this Decision. Indeed, only recently, racist attacks were staged by far-right groups at an anti-racist ‘Rainbow Festival’ in Cyprus on 5 November. The OSCE’s latest annual report on hate crimes also shows that in 2009, hate crimes continued to be a serious problem in many OSCE participating states. So far, however, several member states, including Cyprus, have not transposed the Decision into their national laws. In addition, ENAR calls on EU member states to put in place a comprehensive strategy to fight racist crime. Though essential, the Framework Decision unfortunately remains the smallest legal common denominator in protecting victims of racist crime. Indeed, the Decision has critical weaknesses: the range of offences was reduced during the years of negotiations and many escape clauses were introduced to allow member states to circumvent their responsibilities. We therefore strongly encourage member states to adopt higher levels of protection, beyond the minimum Decision requirements, to ensure full protection of victims of racist hate crimes, and to establish effective mechanisms of consultation with NGOs to ensure that the Decision’s provisions respond to different victims’ specificities.
ENAR President Mohammed Aziz said: “Not implementing this key Decision, in spite of its weaknesses, has the potential to foster a growing sense of impunity for racist hate in Europe. Time’s up for EU member states to finally act upon their commitment to combat racist and xenophobic offences. Victims of racist violence have waited long enough to be properly protected against such crimes wherever they are in the EU.”
© EUropean Network Against Racism
Headlines 19 November, 2010
HATE CRIME PROSECUTION TRAINING FOR EAST END MAGISTRATES (uk)
Magistrates in Tower Hamlets have received special training to help increase the rate of prosecution against hate crime offenders.
17/11/2010- Around 30 magistrates from Thames Magistrates’ Court attended a hate crime awareness raising training last week. The training, the first of its kind in the borough, was organised by Thames Magistrates Court following the recommendations of a consultation commissioned by Tower Hamlets council. Jenny Ershad, Legal Adviser for Thames Magistrates’ Court in Bow and partner of the Tower Hamlets No Place for Hate Forum said: “At Thames Magistrates’ Court, we’re committed to ensuring justice wherever possible. We’re keen to see hate crime being taken seriously and we’ll use every deterrent measure available to send a clear message to offenders of hate that Tower Hamlets is No Place for Hate.” Menara Ahmed, Hate Crime Policy and Partnership Manager at Tower Hamlets Council, said: “It’s crucial to raise awareness of hate crime and ensure everybody takes responsibility to tackle hate crime. The training for magistrates will no doubt go a long way towards our vision of ensuring justice for victims of hate.” The training included guest speaker Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, who spoke about racism and the murder of her son. Jamie Robertson of SCOPE also spoke at the event to raise awareness of hate crimes against disabled people. Tower Hamlets council’s No Place for Hate pledge has been signed by more than 1,000 people, including Hollywood stars Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren.
© The East London Advertiser
KRISTALLNACHT MEMORIAL STOLEN FROM JEWISH CEMETERY IN GERMANY
Police say it's unclear whether deed was motivated by anti-Semitic reasons; Jewish community of Cologne calls upon residents to help retrieve the monument.
18/11/2010- A 750-kilogram monument commemorating Kristallnacht has been stolen from the Jewish cemetery in Cologne, less than a week after a memorial event marked 72 years since the German pogrom. The thieves broken open the backdoor of the cemetery on Sunday night, German police officers told the local Express newspaper. Police believe the perpetrators detached the monument from its pedestal, loaded it unto a vehicle and drove off. It is still unclear whether the deed was motivated by anti-Semitic reasons, police are quoted as saying. The Jewish community of Cologne released a statement saying it is "very distraught by this outrageous act" and called upon residents of the city to help retrieve the bronze monument. Community leaders said they would pay a reward of 4,000 euros for clues leading to the recovery of the memorial. The theft comes almost a year after a group of thieves stole an iconic sign from the entrance of the Auschwitz death camp. That sign was later recovered. The monument, which stands 2.8 meters high and 1.2 meters wide, memorializes ritual objects that were saved and buried on November 10, 1938, immediately after Kristallnacht. They were discovered by accident in 1978 during construction work and subsequently buried according to Jewish tradition in the cemetery. Created by sculptor Franz Lipensky, the monument shows six Stars of David, two Torah scrolls and a menorah.
FORMER CZECH PROSTITUTE, GERMAN NEO-NAZI IMPRISONED FOR TORTURING ROMA WOMEN (Germany)
19/11/2010- A court in the town of Hof, Germany has sentenced a Czech woman and a German neo-Nazi from the Bavarian town of Selb to seven and a half and six years in prison respectively for kidnapping, beating and humiliating Roma women from the Czech towns of Aš and Cheb who were working as prostitutes. DPA reported that the court reached its verdict today. The 26-year-old Czech woman was found guilty of multiple abductions, extortion, aggravated robbery and causing dangerous injuries. The court sent her to prison for seven and a half years; the sentence could have been as long as nine and a half years for the crimes in question. Her German lover, who was four years older than her and had suffered serious brain damage during an accident, received one year less in prison than she did. The court based its decision on a medical finding that the man was suffering from a personality disorder. According to the court, the man posed as someone interested in the sexual services of female prostitutes in the town of Aš, Czech Republic and the surrounding areas. Over the course of this past March, he enticed three different prostitutes into remote parts of the forest, where he and his partner overwhelmed them, blindfolded them and transported them across the border to Bavaria. Once in the man's home, the women had to strip naked; the couple cut off their hair and took away all of their belongings and clothes. The Czech woman beat the kidnapped prostitutes with a baseball bat or iron bar and forced them to say they were "black swine". After the torture was over, the couple let their victims go. The couple, who were living in the town of Selb in Bavaria near the Czech border, targeted Roma women only for attack. The 30-year-old man, according to the state prosecutor, is a right-wing radical who despises Roma, while the Czech woman previously worked as a prostitute herself. The prosecutor said her attacks were prompted by her hatred of prostitution. Police were led to the trail of the Czech-German pair by their most recent victim, who memorized their license plate number. During a search of the defendants' home, detectives found ammunition and weapons and also charged them with illegal possession. During the trial the couple blamed one another for their actions. The man rejected the charge that he was a right-wing radical, claiming to just be a nationalist. "The swastika is no different than a cross in a church to me," local media quoted him as saying.
© the Czech News Agency
THURINGIA FACES GROWING NEO-NAZI ACTIVITY (Germany)
Crimes by far-right extremists have almost doubled over last five years in the eastern German state of Thuringia. And victims' advocacy groups say the incidents have also taken on a more sinister character as officials seem prepared to look the other way.
16/11/2010- The state Interior Ministry registered some 1,213 criminal offences for 2009, among then the desecration of Jewish memorials with severed pig heads and a hacker attack on the Buchenwald concentration camp website. But the reported crimes are only a small fraction of what is a much larger problem in the state, said Yvonne Proß, a counsellor at the Thuringian Emergency Service for victims of violence caused by far-right extremism (THO). “One can be certain that the number of unreported cases is somewhat higher. Particularly when it comes to victims of violence,” she said. In addition to physical violence, perpetrators have taken to following, threatening and intimidating their victims. “Stalking the people without touching them, intimidation methods such as 'home visits,' or putting stickers near apartments – the effects of non-physical violence should not be underestimated,” Proß said. In these cases, victims can’t prove that a crime has been committed, and many choose not to file police reports for fear of retribution or a bad experience with the authorities.
Filip Heinlein, who sits on the Sonneburg county council for the Green party, was brutally beaten one year ago by three neo-Nazis there, and said that authorities have become part of the problem by downplaying the significance of such attacks. “Though the perpetrators called out ‘Sieg Heil’ and other anti-Semitic slogans, and some belong to the right-wing extremist group the Freie Kameradschaft in Sonneberg, the judge did not want to recognise what was really behind it,” Heinlein said of his case. Neo-Nazi groups are taking advantage of this tendency to remain silent within communities, according to MOBIT, a Thuringia-based initiative against far-right activity. “In recent years we’ve observed more far-right groups settling into club houses and procuring real estate,” MOBIT consultant Christian Rühl said. “Group meetings or neo-Nazi concerts are declared birthdays or private parties. That greatly impedes banning such gatherings.” In these cases communities have little leverage to prevent such events, he said. But the advocacy groups have made some progress in working against the trend on a community level, they said.
This year MOBIT will work together on a new initiative with both the Thuringia state sporting association and the football association, Rühl said. “It is very welcome that the associations have recognised there is a problem,” he said. “For a long time it was simply ignored.” State authorities also plan to begin a fiercely disputed programme against extremism this year, the Social Affairs Ministry said. Thuringia opposition politicians have criticised delays in implementing the scheme, in addition to demanding a stronger focus on right-wing extremism. The state cabinet is expected to approve the initiative by December.
© The Local - Germany
OSCE/ODIHR REPORT: HATE CRIME REMAINS A SERIOUS PROBLEM IN EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA
Human Rights First, Anti-Defamation League Issue Companion Analysis that Urges Government Action to Combat Hate Crime
17/11/2010- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today released its annual report for 2009 "Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses," concluding that hate crime continued to be a serious problem in many of the 56 countries in North America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union. This is the first study since the passage of the notable 2009 Ministerial Council Decision 9/09, in which participating countries upheld unanimously their commitment to collect and publicize detailed statistics on hate crime. To compliment the intergovernmental report, U.S. international rights groups Human Rights First (HRF) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a reaction paper that highlights the failure of many of the OSCE states to fulfill commitments to combat the problem.
"While the OSCE member states have adopted meaningful political commitments to combat hate crime, this report reveals that most states still have a long way to go in turning those words into action," stated Human Rights First's Paul LeGendre. "We are calling on States to reaffirm these commitments and their will to act at the highest level when they meet on December 1-2 at the first OSCE Summit meeting since 1999." According to the report of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), 2009 saw instances of intimidation, threats, vandalism, arson, assault, and murder targeted against persons or groups because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other status. The scarcely available official government figures tracking such crimes underscore the importance of strengthening state responses to hate crimes, including through enactment of legislation, data collection, and sharing of best practices.
Human Rights First maintains that authorities continue to underreport the true number of incidents, although the group acknowledges that more countries are taking steps to improve their legislative frameworks and systems of data collection, while requesting international cooperation to train police and prosecutors. "Bulgaria, for example, amended its hate crime provision and submitted data to ODIHR for the first time this year, while also agreeing to participate in the Law Enforcement Training Program coordinated by the OSCE," notes Paul LeGendre. "We hope the ODIHR's report serves as an annual reminder to more governments about the vast resources available to them, as the overall across-the-board response to hate crime remains feeble." The joint analysis produced by Human Rights First and Anti-Defamation League offers specific recommendations tailored to states' varying levels of adherence to commitments to combat hate crimes.
"The ODIHR's annual report confirms nongovernmental and media reports suggesting that hate crime continues to be a serious challenge for governments throughout the region in 2009." noted LeGendre. The beheading of a Kyrgyz man in the Russian Federation, the brutal murder of a Romani man and his 5-year-old son in Hungary, the stabbing of a gay couple in the United Kingdom, the wave of antisemitic violence across many countries in Europe that followed Israeli attacks in Gaza, and the stabbing of a Muslim cab driver in the United States, are among the long list of violent hate crimes that generated shock waves through entire communities. "Governments must step up their efforts to combat hate violence and enlist the help of ODIHR's experts to improve their legislative frameworks, institute sound data collection mechanisms, and train law enforcement officials." concluded LeGendre.
© Human Rights First
Headlines 12 November, 2010
THREATS AGAINST THE STRASBOURG EYYUB SULTAN MOSQUE (France, press release)
12/11/2010- On 12th November 2010, officials at the Sultan Eyyub Mosque in Strasbourg received an envelope by post. It contained a white powder chemical substance and a page torn from the Holy Quran and partially burned. It also had a message from the "Movement for the European Liberation”, urging Muslims to "leave our land while you can. Choose the suitcase or the coffin". While Muslims communities in Strasbourg have experienced an increase in anti-Islam rhetoric and negative media coverage in recent years, this latest incident points to the vicious nature of future events. After several months of escalating violence in such acts, and despite the proclamations of sympathy of our political leaders, Muslim communities have started experiencing Islamophobia in action. We consider this, an act of "Terrorism" and the magnitude of the fight against this type of aggression must change its course and scale.
We wish to point out that together the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, this former warehouse turned into a mosque is a place of worship as well as a living proof of the visible presence of the Muslim communities in our city. The mosque also serves as a gathering place for the elderly among Turkish community who gave their youth to rebuild the ravaged France in the post-war period. Unfortunately, this peaceful place is now part of the victimization by a wave of xenophobic and Islamophobic hate that has grown around us. Now the faithful are openly threatened on their physical integrity. Today, the citizens of Strasbourg have a clear choice. Protect the ethnic and religious minorities by taking part in the struggle of peace, social cohesion, respect and mutual understanding and living together to construct a future where everyone has an equal and fair. Now is the time for the citizens to stand up and oppose those who choose violence, barbarism, hatred and terror. Resistance to the forces of evil should start today because tomorrow may be too late.
COJEP International has taken an initiative to highlight the issue of an inclusive Europe through a comprehensive debate on 23 November between 09:00 and 12:00 during the Second European Congress of Citizenship in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
© Cojep International
RACIST AND RELIGIOUSLY-AGGRAVATED CRIMES HIGHEST IN GLOUCESTER (uk)
12/11/2010- There are nearly double the amount of racially or religiously aggravated hate crimes in Gloucester than anywhere else in the county. Latest figures for the 2009-2010 year show that police attended 107 crimes that had a racially or religiously aggravating feature, for example, racist insults. These compare to 64 hate crimes in Cheltenham, 20 in the Cotswold's, 15 in The Forest of Dean, 28 in Stroud, and 13 in Tewkesbury in the same period. All figures relate to certain crimes only, grievous bodily harm, grievous bodily harm without intent, actual bodily harm, harassment, public order harassment, assault without injury, and criminal damage. Gloucester historically has this level of hate crimes, with the average yearly figure for the past five years at just over 100.
Andy Davies, neighbourhood policing sergeant for the county, said: "Gloucester has the biggest population and is home to some of our most diverse communities in the county, which is one of the reasons we would expect figures there to be higher." He added that he was pleased people were coming forward to report these crimes, saying: "While any incidents of this type are reprehensible, we do believe it is a good sign that people there are willing to come forward and report racially aggravated incidents. "One of the reasons for this is the good work of our Safer Community Teams in building trust within neighbourhoods and taking swift and firm action to find those responsible for such incidents and giving the right support to victims."
In a bid to improve relations between communities, and promote understanding of other cultures, the Safer Community Team in Matson worked with Gloucestershire County Council and Together in Matson for teenagers to visit the Mosque in Ryecroft Street in Gloucester. They got to meet some of the Asian community and understand more about their culture. Police spokesman Chris Jackson said: "It was a great success and will help improve relationships within the community, both in the short and long term."
© This is Gloucestershire
THE MINISTRY'S COMMENTS ON CERTAIN STATEMENTS OF THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL'S REPORT (Hungary)
Amnesty International's report 'Violent attacks against Roma in Hungary'
12/11/2010- As with all other offended parties, victims of hate crimes in Hungary enjoy effective benefits in criminal procedure. A top priority for the Hungarian police and its regional agencies is to make sure all members of the Roma minority are equal before the law. District constables of regional and local police units constantly check areas with large Roma communities to preserve their safety and to prevent criminal acts against them. The police remind all offended parties of their right to victim assistance and mitigation of damages. The Victim Assistance Service of the Central Office of Justice paid special attention to the victims of the Roma murders and focused on giving all necessary information to victims along with the police. In some cases, the leaflet was delivered personally at victims' homes right after the crime and victims were given full verbal information on the available forms of assistance. Such information enabled victims to choose any form of assistance.
The service informed all victims of their right to a free legal consultation provided by the state. Under the relevant law, the victim assistance service offers two different types of financial support: immediate financial assistance and state mitigation of damages. The victims of the Roma murders were eligible for both types and submitted their applications accordingly. The report says that in certain cases funeral costs related to the crimes were paid by the National Roma Government or the local mayor's office instead of the state. The practical reason for that was that these bodies received first-hand information about the crimes and could go to the sites and offer their financial support to the victims immediately. By contrast, the Victim Assistance Service conducts an administrative procedure, which makes access to support somewhat harder.
Concerning the report's comments on psychological counselling, we must note that the law requires the victim assistance service to hire lawyers, thus the service is still unfortunately unable to offer professional and prompt psychological counselling. For this reason, the service uses its interest enforcement service to offer victims support by a psychologist or it may allocate immediate financial aids to cover the related extraordinary expenses. Victims of voluntary and violent crimes against humans may apply for payment of their psychological expenses or a part of them, as a portion of mitigation of damages. It is undeniable that at present free and immediate psychological counselling is unavailable not only for victims of Roma murders but also for victims of all other crimes. At present, psychologists employed by health and social institutions can offer counselling to crime victims depending on their time and capacity, which is why immediate counselling is at times impossible. The victims support service is fully aware of these deficiencies and, as part of Project 5.6.2 under the Social Renewal Operative Programme, it will employ psychologists in the North Hungary region as a pilot project.
Based on the growth of violent attacks against Roma, the report blames the defects of law and order measures. Generally, it is fair to say that no professional course proper at the Police Academy teaches students to be biased against the ethnicity of perpetrators, victims or other persons under an official measure. At the same time, this issue is deeply and broadly present in social science courses. The report agrees with that. Hungarian professors involved in police training regularly deliver speeches and publish written materials concerning the approach of criminal law to hate speech and violence against members of certain communities in general. Police employees are now involved in antidiscrimination conferences and training concerning the Roma-police officer relationship. The police regularly organizes courses for staff on conflict and prejudice management Last year, all police units made great efforts to make sure police actions against Roma citizens were fair and lawful. The committee set up by the Criminal Directorate General of the National Police Department to develop an instruction concerning the co-operation between Roma minority governments and the police has completed the initial part of its assignment. At present, the finalization of the text of the norm is in progress.
The report suggests that the Ministry of Interior should collect data on hate crimes. As to personal data, it must be stated that Act LXIII of 1992 on the protection of personal data and the disclosure of public information specifically determines the cases when special data may be handled. In addition, pursuant to Act LXXVII of 1993 on the rights of national and ethnic minorities, no person may be required to reveal his/her minority background. Any hate crime record would only make sense against the victim's stated affiliation to a minority, since the effective laws declare such statement as the only reliable information. Any third-party statement regarding the victim would not only be unlawful but would also raise concerns in its practical implementation. Data generated in the criminal justice system and the recorded ethnic data could easily lead to the growth of current prejudices and to the perceived confirmation of stereotypes. The collection of ethnic data regarding victims or perpetrators would lead to an unreliable and hence useless database whose contents, due to the uncontrolled quality of input data, could endanger the groups that were meant to be protected.
Concerning the collection of hate crime data, we should point out that Hungarian criminal statistics already include such data and data collection for criminal records also includes such a crime category. Criminal statistics record not only all hate crimes (e.g. violence against members of a community, incitement against a community), but also record any racist motive in other violent crimes (e.g. homicide, voluntary manslaughter, involvement in suicide and battery).
© Ministry of Public Administration and Justice Hungary
AMNESTY ACCUSES HUNGARY OF FAILING TO PROTECT ROMA
10/11/2010- Amnesty International has accused Hungary of not doing enough to prevent and respond to violence against the country's large Roma population. The human rights group has identified what it calls "shortcomings and gaps" in Hungary's criminal justice system. It's report focuses on a series of attacks on Roma settlements - which resulted in six deaths - over more than a year, ending in August 2009. Four men were arrested after a massive police operation. They are expected to go on trial soon, charged with murder. Amnesty criticises the failure of the police to record some of the attacks as hate crimes. "The Hungarian authorities have a duty to prevent discrimination and to ensure justice for victims of hate crimes," says Nicola Duckworth, director of Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia programme. "This includes the obligation to investigate whether or not racial and ethnic hatred or prejudice played a role in these and any similar attacks."
The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Budapest says the Amnesty report suggests that anti-Roma prejudice runs very deep in Hungarian society. The new conservative Fidesz government, elected in June this year, has made law and order one of its priorities, and has promised to increase the size and prestige of the police force. It has also appointed Hungary's first ever minister for social inclusion. In the same election, the far-right group Jobbik won nearly 17% of the vote - partly thanks to a campaign which identified what it calls "gypsy crime" as one of the country's main problems.
© BBC News
Police have confirmed that a 38-year-old man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in Malmö in connection with the recent shootings in southern Sweden.
7/11/2010- He faces charges for one murder and seven attempted murders. The suspect was charged in absentia in the afternoon and arrested at 6.30pm on Saturday. The man has denied the crimes, according to chief prosecutor Solveig Wollstad. "It was at 6.30pm in the evening it began. I saw many police with helmets and shields sneaking around. However, they were very discreet," an eyewitness at the arrest near central Malmö told news agency TT on Sunday. "Everything proceeded calmly and there was no uproar. The police appeared to have a good grip on the situation," the witness added. Police technicians were also on site. "They took away many cardboard boxes, bags and other things. It was all over at 8pm," the witness said. Of the 50 to 60 shootings that have taken place in Malmö last year, police consider about 15 of them as "unaccounted." One woman was shot to death near Västra Skrävlinge church, while eight others were injured. Trez Persson, 20, was killed last October when someone fired numerous shots into the car she was sitting in with a friend, a man of immigrant origin, who was seriously injured in the attack. She was the only one who did not have an immigrant background. At several of the shootings, including the murder, a single large-calibre weapon was used.
Intense media interest greeted the police press conference that began at 1pm on Sunday that was broadcast on public television. Eight to 10 television crews were on site, as well as about 20 journalists, including those representing Danish media. Wollstad confirmed that she charged a 38-year-old man in absentia on Saturday. After preliminary questioning, police decided to proceed with an arrest in connection with the murder in Malmö in October 2009 and seven attempted murders from October 10th, 2009 to last month. In October alone, numerous shootings appear linked to the case, including two men shot in the back a week apart as they waited alone in the dark at separate isolated bus stops. "By noon on Tuesday, I will take a position on whether to demand custody for the man," said Wollstad. She added that police have made certain findings that strengthen suspicion against him and that further interrogation questioning is ongoing. What led to suspicion against the man was simply traditional police work, according to Skåne county criminal investigation department superintendent Börje Sjöholm. "Tips from the public helped spark interest in him," he explained.
Malmö police stopped short of calling the arrest a complete success. The following weeks and perhaps months will be filled with intensive police work. In addition, the man is only suspected in seven of the nearly 20 shootings that police believe they have no other obvious explanation. The suspect has only been heard once, on Saturday evening, when he denied the crimes. The man has a license for two weapons that were found during a home raid. "The weapons are being examined by the National Laboratory of Forensic Science [Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium]", said Sjöholm. When asked why the man had a weapons permit, Sjöholm responded, "I do not want to answer about that. In this case, I do not help to contribute to unmasking the man's identity." Police work is now intensively focussed on questioning, according to Sjöholm. "This case is far from solved, but the work on the investigation has just begun," he said. The police also pointed out that they have continued with preventative work in Malmö through increased visibility.
During the press conference, the police detailed the circumstances behind the arrest at his home on Korsörvägen. "It proceeded calmly. He was arrested in his home. The man has a Swedish background," said Sjöholm. Police added he was not previously known to police, but as Dag Andersson of the National Murder Commission pointed out, "At least he is not in our records over the last five years." The police and Wollstad did not disclose any details about the man's possible motives behind the shootings, saying he is under suspicion for probable cause. "I believe that it is probable cause, which strengthens the suspicion," said Wollstad. The suspect may even have committed unsolved murders dating as far back as 2003. The announcement has spread panic in the city and the incidents bear a chilling similarity to the case of an immigrant-shooting sniper in Stockholm in the early 1990s nicknamed "Laser Man." Police also declined to comment on whether fortified police watches suggested that more offenders are under suspicion. "It is probably a foregone conclusion," said Sjöholm.
The extra security measures include an increased police presence on the streets. When asked whether people of foreign backgrounds are now safe on Malmö's streets, Malmö city police chief Ulf Sempert replied, "We think that it has been so the whole time." Wollstad did not disclose the suspect's name and refrained from officially linking him to the man Swedish press have dubbed "the new Laser Man." "Laser Man" was the nickname given to John Ausonius, who shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, around Stockholm from August 1991 to January 1992. Ausonius, who got his nickname by initially using a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison. Unlike Ausonius, the Malmö shooter does not appear to use a laser sight rifle, but police say the same gun has been used for several of the shootings, including the attack on the only known ethnic Swedish victim.
© The Local - Sweden
ASSAULT IN HOME WON'T SILENCE ANTI-RACISM ACTIVIST JASON DEVINE (Canada)
They were trying to kill me,' says victim
9/11/2010- If the intruders who assaulted Jason Devine in his southeast Calgary home were trying to silence him, the anti-racism activist says they didn't succeed. "We're not going to stop," said Devine, whose fingertips were still bloodstained from an attack at his home in Penbrooke Meadows early Monday. Investigators said they're probing the possibility Devine was targeted by white supremacists, but stressed their investigation is in its early stages. "It's definitely an avenue we're pursuing," said Det. Brad Moore. To Devine and his wife, Bonnie, the attack was the work of local white supremacists bent on intimidating them. "At the basic level, it's a message," Devine said. Many home invasions are targeted crimes by thieves seeking drugs or money, but Devine said the five men who attacked him didn't steal a thing from his house. "My wife's purse was right there," said Devine, pointing to a handbag on the kitchen table at his home on 8th Avenue S.E.
Devine has run in several federal elections for the Communist Party of Canada and is a longtime member of Anti-Racism Action Calgary -- a group that has clashed with white supremacists during public demonstrations. "If it was a robbery, why did they put holes in the walls?" said Devine. "Obviously, they were trying to kill me." Moore confirmed the intruders didn't steal anything, leading investigators to believe the home invasion wasn't a robbery attempt. "Definitely, the intent was to get in and confront the occupants," he said. The attack happened just after 1 a.m., while Devine and a friend were sitting in the kitchen after entertaining guests earlier in the evening. Devine said he heard a loud bang coming from downstairs, and at first thought it might have been one of his young sons having a nightmare. But within seconds, five men clad head-to-toe in black rushed in and began beating Devine and his friend.
"All of them had metal or wooden weapons," said Devine. Devine lifted his shirt to reveal a deep purple bruise on his midriff and several bloody, crescent-shaped wounds on his back -- likely from a hammer. Devine said he tried to fight back and lifted his arm above his head to protect himself, but he still received a large gash on his scalp that needed stitches. Devine's friend suffered a broken arm, he said. The attack lasted only a few minutes and the men ran out to a waiting, dark-coloured SUV. Devine's wife, Bonnie, had gone to bed earlier in the evening and remained unharmed in the bedroom during the home invasion. "I was on the phone as soon as I heard the boots on the stairs and the screams," said Bonnie, who ran for mayor in last month's municipal election. The Devines' four children remained asleep downstairs and didn't witness the attack. The couple recently put up posters around Forest Lawn warning residents about white supremacists living in the area. "We think (the home invasion) was in direct retaliation," Jason said.
The Devines bought their house and moved in only a few months ago, but had experienced vandalism and a Molotov cocktail attack at their previous address. "This has escalated, and it continues to escalate," Bonnie said. Despite being targeted in the past, Devine said he never expected to be violently attacked inside his own home. Devine said the family has no plans to move -- though they might take more steps to protect their home. "We're going to have to totally overhaul our security," he said.
© The Calgary Herald
BURNING CROSS WAS HATE CRIME, JUDGE RULES (Canada)
6/11/2010- Canada has marked a turning point with what's believed to be a landmark hate-crime conviction, an interracial couple said Friday, months after they awoke to find a burning cross on the front lawn of their rural Nova Scotia home. Shayne Howe, who is black, and Michelle Lyon, who is white, were in court to hear provincial court Judge Claudine MacDonald find Justin Rehberg guilty Friday of inciting racial hatred. "It shows that Canada doesn't accept this, that those days are over," said Howe outside court. "For that conviction to come through, it makes me happy." Lyon echoed that sentiment. "This is going to define the future and our future generations, so it's important that it came out this way," she said shortly after the ruling. The couple saw a two-metre cross burning on their property in Poplar Grove, N.S., just after midnight on Feb. 21. According to an agreed statement of facts, one of the couple's five children also heard someone nearby shout racial slurs.
Rehberg pleaded not guilty last month to inciting racial hatred. His lawyer argued the act of burning the cross on its own wasn't enough to prove the 20-year-old native of Avondale, N.S., did that. Crown lawyer Darrell Carmichael said the ruling was significant. "To my knowledge we have never before had a court decision in this country which officially states that cross-burning in this context is a hate crime," he said outside court. Rehberg pleaded guilty last month to criminal harassment in the case. Rehberg, who showed no emotion and refused comment as he left the courthouse, will be sentenced on both convictions Dec. 14. His uncle said he did not approve of his nephew's actions, adding it was likely the foolishness of youth. "I'm not saying it should have been done because it shouldn't have been, but everyone makes mistakes when they're young," Darrell Boutilier said outside of the courthouse. "I've done foolish things that I'm not crazy about, but that's life."
© The Winnipeg Free Press
Headlines 5 November, 2010
SUFFOLK: HATE CRIMES AGAINST THE DISABLED UP 60% (uk)
The number of crimes committed against disabled people in Suffolk has risen by 60% in the past 12 months, it can be revealed.
5/11/2010- In light of the revelations, support workers have encouraged more victims to come forward as they believe that many disabled hate crimes go unreported. The findings have been obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times following a Freedom of Information Request. It revealed that during 2008/09 a total of 86 disabled hate crimes were committed in the county and in 2009/10 the figure rose to 138. A spokeswoman for the Suffolk Hate Crime Service said it is anticipated that the current year’s figures will be much higher. A number of local organisations have joined forces to tackle the problem including the Hate Crime Service, Suffolk Police and Suffolk County Council. Linda Hoggarth, chairman of Suffolk disability support charity Optua which is also tackling the issue, said: “Our aim is to enable around 30 people with learning disabilities across Suffolk to become Respect Champions so that they can raise awareness of disablist hate crime among other people with learning disabilities across the county. “There are a series of Respect Champions Courses running in Suffolk and we have provided a member of staff to help support these. “The courses have been facilitated by Suffolk Acre and so far they are going very well. We’ve had some very positive feedback from our member of staff who has been involved. “This is very important because disablist hate crime has historically been under-reported and the idea is to encourage people with learning disabilities to feel more confident about reporting hate crime. “A longer-term aim is to have initiatives to raise awareness of hate crime among people with any disability.” A spokesman for Suffolk police added: “As a service we are aware that disability hate crime is currently under- reported. Through engagement with voluntary and statutory agencies we aim to develop an increased awareness of these issues and inform individuals how they can report hate crimes.”
© The East Anglian Daily Times
AZERBAIJANI-AMERICAN COUNCIL DECRIES ANTI-SEMITISM AND INTOLERANCE IN ARMENIA
4/11/2010- On the night of October 20, 2010, an unidentified group of people desecrated the Holocaust memorial in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The memorial erected in 1999 was spray-painted with swastika and "Death to Jews" inscriptions in Armenian, the Azerbaijani-American Council said. This is not a first time when the Holocaust memorial in Armenia was vandalized, similar acts were committed against the monument in 2005 and 2007. Yet this new act of vandalism against the Holocaust memorial reveals the disturbing persistence of anti-Semitism in Armenian society. The anti-Jewish feelings are also blossoming amidst the general atmosphere of Turcophobia and anti-Azerbaijani sentiment often fueled for political purposes in now mono-ethnic Armenia. To justify country's ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories of neighboring Azerbaijan, Armenian authorities and media resort to various forms of propaganda of intolerance.
In contrast, the neighboring predominantly-Muslim secular Azerbaijan has demonstrated a remarkable history of tolerance towards Jewish communities and other ethnic and religious congregations in the country. Just today, on November 3, 2010, public officials, representatives of Jewish community, and diplomats from different countries joined a groundbreaking ceremony of a new synagogue in the historic Jewish quarter of Azerbaijani capital, Baku. The ceremony came a month after the grand opening of the Chabad Ohr Avner Educational Complex in Baku on October 4. "Only in Azerbaijan within just one month could such a landmark event have occurred in the life of the Jewish community," Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Michael Lavon-Lotem said speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new synagogue.
"Azerbaijani-American Council (AAC) applauds the groundbreaking of a new synagogue in Azerbaijan as another sign of tolerance and intercultural synergy practiced in Azerbaijani society. AAC also expresses its indignation about the acts of anti-Semitism and intolerance in Armenia or any other part of South Caucasus. We appeal to Armenian authorities and media to put an end to the propaganda of irredentism, ethnocentrism, and phobia against neighboring nations. Such policies have already isolated Armenia and threaten to further deprive Armenian people from regional integration and economic development opportunities," the Council's report says.
© TREND News Agency
NUMBER OF HATE CRIMES ON THE UP: MORE THAN 1,000 INCIDENTS WERE FILED IN 2009 (Finland)
Suspect is typically 15-24-year-old Finnish male
3/11/2010- An increasing number of hate crimes were reported to the police last year. More than a thousand cases were filed indicating a 17% growth rate compared to the year before. A hate crime refers to a deed for which the motive is either prejudice or hatred towards the group that the victim represents. Most of the hate crimes are everyday offences such as name-calling, threats, hitting or other forms of physical assault, or disturbance of domestic peace. According to a study conducted by researcher Laura Peutere from the Police College of Finland, in 2009 1,007 hate crimes were reported to the police, against 859 cases in 2008. A great majority of the reported hate crimes included racist elements, and in the fashion of the previous years the most commonly used crime definition was assault. In racist cases, the suspect is typically a Finnish male between the ages of 15 and 24. A majority of the victims, around 60% of them, were Finnish citizens, for example members of the Roma community or the Finnish-born children of immigrants. In proportion to the number of members of different ethnic minorities in Finland, the most common targets of racist crimes were the Somalis. Also the Iraqis, Iranians, and Turks in the population were often targeted, but the Russians quite rarely.
Hate crimes motivated by something else than the victim's ethnic origin were rare last year. In 83 of the filed incidents the victim’s religious views seemed to be the triggering factor. In 31 suspected offences, the motive was the victim’s sexual orientation. The prevention of crimes based on hatred and prejudices has become a challenge to Finnish society, estimated Ministry of the Interior Chief of Staff Ritva Viljanen at the Wednesday release of the report. The Ministry of the Interior is currently campaigning for lowering the threshold for reporting hate crimes. “A hate crime is an attack against the individual, the population group that he or she represents, and the constitutional state. Non-discrimination is a constitutional basic right that the authorities have to safeguard”, Viljanen emphasised. “Hate crimes are crimes de jure, and those who commit them are criminals. For example hateful online comments cannot be construed as a pertinent part of the ongoing immigration or social debate. They represent racism and they meet the criteria of a crime.” In Viljanen’s view it is essential that criminal activities are not confused for expressions of opinion, but that things are referred to by their real names.
The largest number of suspicions of racist crimes, 326 in all, were filed in the capital area. In 2008 the corresponding figure was 311. In the eastern city of Joensuu, 43 racist criminal cases were filed last year. For 2008 the figure was considerably lower, only nine. The booking practices for hate crimes still vary between different police precincts. According to researcher Juha Kääriäinen from the Police College of Finland, the increased number of filed hate crimes may result from the fact that more attention has been paid to the investigation and filing practices of such cases. “Helsinki’s filing practices represent the national average”, Kääriäinen reckons. The Finnish criminal code does not specifically recognise hate crimes or racist crimes as a separate category. Laura Peutere’s study classified as hate crimes all those in which the victim, the police, or some other person involved suspected that hate was a motivation, or in which there had been verbal attacks against a group that the victim represents. A racist motive is seen as an aggravating circumstance in criminal cases, but the paragraph in question is very rarely applied by Finnish courts.
© The Helsingin Sanomat
49 JEWISH GRAVESTONES SMASHED IN FRANCE
French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche says incident took place Friday night in cemetery in northeastern town of Bar-le-Duc. Police searching for several people believed to be involved
1/11/2010- Dozens of gravestones were smashed Friday night in a Jewish cemetery in northeastern France, French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported Sunday. According to the newspaper, at least 49 gravestones were destroyed. No graffiti was found in the area. The newspaper said a passerby walking his dog in the town of Bar-le-Duc, in the Meuse district, had noticed that the gate to the Jewish cemetery was open. "The gate to the cemetery, which has 126 graves, is always closed," the report said. "The resident arrived at the police station and filed a report. A police force dispatched to the area found 49 smashed gravestones." According to the newspaper, "These are very heavy gravestones, which were moved, fell on the ground and broke due to their heavy weight. A single person could not have defaced the cemetery on his own, so the police are looking for several suspects." The police collected evidence throughout the night, the report added, and a senior official in the office of the district's attorney general visited the place and is monitoring the investigation. The district's attorney general said the authorities viewed the incident as extremely severe and had launched an extensive investigation to locate suspects. Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated in France several times in recent years. The latest incident took place in July, when 27 gravestones were smashed in a Strasbourg cemetery.
© Ynet News
GERMAN FM AFTER ATTACK ON NEW SYNAGOGUE: ANTI-SEMITISM HAS NO PLACE HERE
Westerwelle condemned the late Saturday incident, in which firebomb hit tree near new synagogue, as a 'despicable act'.
31/10/2010- A petrol bomb which was thrown towards a brand-new synagogue in Germany hit a tree and did no damage, police said Sunday. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the late Saturday incident as a "despicable act" and called on police to find the culprits, saying in a written statement, "anti-Semitism can have no place in our society." Police said a type of Molotov cocktail was thrown towards the futuristic building, but burned out under a tree outside the synagogue compound. An eyewitness saw only the flash in the dark as it exploded. The synagogue was not damaged. The site was inaugurated in September.
31/10/2010- Turkey has condemned the desecration of a cemetery belonging to Greek Orthodox citizens in Gökçeada. "We regret that many gravestones in a cemetery belonging to our Greek Orthodox citizens in Gökçeada were damaged on the night of Oct. 28. We strongly condemn this," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday. "Upon notification of the incident by the Gökçeada Municipality to the Public Prosecutor's Office, an immediate investigation was launched to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Necessary measures to prevent any recurrence of such an event are being taken by the relevant authorities."