Racist violence and discourses

What is at stake?

Every day ethnic and religious minorities face racist crime and violence across the EU. They are not targeted randomly by perpetrators, but simply because of who they are or they seem to be. Often this reality is denied or underestimated.

According to a FRA survey, every fourth respondent from a minority group said that they had been a victim of crime at least once in the 12 months preceding the survey.

In addition, the specificity of racist violence is that it has a ripple effect: not only does the individual have to deal with the hurt and isolation but everyone who shares that person’s identity becomes a potential target. This community then has a shared fear that they are vulnerable to harassment and violence because of their identity. On a wider scale this serves to isolate and polarise groups.

Despite EU legislation on combating racist violence, there are still gaps in the implementation by Member States. In practice, the variation in legal provisions in Member States has a direct effect on how criminal law authorities deal with racist crimes. Narrow definitions often translate in under-recording of incidents. In addition, currently, only Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom collect comprehensive data on hate crime, including detailed information on both the victims and and the perpetrators.

As for racist discourses, we know they are not just words. They have devastating effects on the groups targeted and can very often lead to acts of violence. If such discourses are propagated by public figures, politicians or the media, their impact is all the more damaging. Indeed, politicians have a significant influence as opinion shapers. They are, however, not always aware of the fine line between freedom of expression and the use of language inciting hatred and/or violence.

Watch “Racist crime in Europe: increasing, under-reported, destroying lives”:

What are we doing about it?

We are working for an improvement of legislative standards, both at EU and national levels, to deal with incitement to violence and hatred and to ensure proper investigation and prosecution of racist crimes.

We are empowering politicians to act responsibly by not inciting to discrimination, prejudice or hatred in their political work, to use respectful language when referring to minorities, and to respect the dignity and rights of all individuals during political debates. And we develop policies to ensure sanctions against politicians using racist discourses to stop the growing feeling of impunity and lack of democratic accountability.

We are offering expertise to EU States to broaden the scope of data collected on racist crime through the use of victimisation surveys on the nature and extent of unreported crimes, the experiences of crime victims with law enforcement and the reasons for non-reporting.

We contribute to rights awareness among victims of racist crime and support the engagement in prevention work with perpetrators.

We work to debunk myths on populations targeted by racist violence and discourses such as the Roma and migrants.

Further reading

Racist crime

ENAR Shadow Report 2013/14: Racist crime in Europe (2015)
Video: Racist crime in Europe – increasing, under-reported, destroying lives (2015)
All victims recognised, no victim forgotten: Joint statement for European Day for victims of crime (2015)
ENARgy webzine: Individual and community impacts of racist crime (June 2013)
ENAR report: “Racist Violence in Europe” (2011)

Hate speech

Form to report hate speech in the European Parliament

Open letter regarding racist statement against Cecile Kyenge MEP (2015)
ENARgy webzine: Racist speech and the impact of incitement to hatred (2015)
Final #NoHateEP2014 report of hate speech incidents during the European Parliament elections campaign (2014)
ENAR-ILGA Appeal for a #NoHateEP2014 (2014)
ENARgy webzine: Delegitimising hate and stigmatising discourses (October 2013)
Light on project (of which ENAR is a partner)

Related events

– 6 May 2015: Launch of ENAR’s Shadow Report on racist crime

ENAR Contact person

Sarah Chander, Policy Officer: sarah@enar-eu.org


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