The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) attended the meeting of the EU High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, which took place in Brussels on 31 May – 1 June 2017. The High Level Group brings together representatives of the Member States, the European Commission and civil society representatives.
The High Level Group aims at fostering the further exchange and dissemination of best practices and concrete discussions on how to fill existing gaps on preventing and combating hate crime. It is aimed at providing Member States with informal guidance to ensure better implementation of hate crime laws and laws on supporting victims.
The meeting had an overall focus on trying to eliminate online hate speech and various forms of hate crime; to achieve this, a range of key stakeholders explored adequate provision of support to individuals experiencing hate crime and hate speech, as well as work alongside private, public and civil society sectors to determine the resources and guidance required.
The group focused discussions around the following objectives: Ensuring better coordination and cooperation between services and key decision-makers; Ensuring and encouraging access to justice; Providing effective protection; and Ensuring adequate support services.
The second day explored various standards, practices and the challenges to protect and support those experiencing hate crime and hate speech. Parallel sessions took place, which explored how to enable and encourage access to justice, the provision of adequate support services and effective protection. ENIL was involved in presenting case studies and key themes associated with the provision of accessible support to disabled people experiencing hate crime.
During the session, Miro Griffiths, representing ENIL, highlighted the difficulties surrounding the notion of vulnerability. He raised concern that many prominent campaigners and disabled people’s organisations have worked tirelessly to challenge the assumption that disabled people are always vulnerable and, therefore, require protectionist and specialist support. This belief has resulted in the institutionalisation and continued marginalisation of disabled people across Europe. He wanted to see a focus on facilitating dialogue between organisations committed or interested in disability hate crime and user led organisations that would assist with raising awareness of disability rights to law enforcement and prosecution services, provide third-party reporting mechanisms and address accessibility issues within victim support and judicial processes. To achieve this, member states and EU policy initiatives must conceptualise disability as a human rights issue, whereby disability is created as a result of the political, economic and cultural structures.
Further information can be found here.