JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hate crime is still a significant problem in 56 countries in North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union, a new report says.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released its annual report Monday in honor of International Tolerance Day.
According to the report of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 2008 saw murders, arson, beatings, vandalism and other crimes targeted against persons or groups because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other status.
The report also stresses that the full extent of hate crimes remains obscured by a lack of reliable data.
"Hate crimes have become a frequent occurrence in many participating states, but unfortunately, the scarcity of data on these crimes makes it difficult to assess the true scope and nature of the problem and to devise effective policies to combat hate crimes," said Janez Lenarcic, ODIHR’s director.
Published annually, the report provides statistics and other information on the extent and types of hate crimes, as well as government responses. It is based on data received from OSCE participating states, intergovernmental agencies and civil society groups.
The report points out significant gaps in data collection in most participating states. Some do not collect any statistics on hate crimes, while others do not make the data public. The report emphasizes the need to record, investigate and prosecute hate crime cases, improve data collection and strengthen cooperation with civil society to complement government efforts.
The Anti-Defamation League and Human Rights First released a joint reaction paper to the report offering recommendations on how to improve countries’ data collection.