ENIL in cooperation with the Croatian Disability Ombudsman and the OSCE/ODIHR held a two day seminar on hate crime against people with disabilities. It took place on the 13th and 14th October in Zagreb, Croatia. ENIL has prioritised its work in relation to hate crime over the last few years as it is very important that disabled people are able to live independent lives without the fear of being harassed, humiliated, attacked or even be a victim of hate crime.
The aim of the seminar was to raise awareness about the concept and nature of disability hate crime and to share experiences from Croatia. The seminar also aimed to present effective responses to disability hate crime at the national level and to identify ways forward for criminal justice officials, national human rights institutions and disabled people’s organisations.
The Disability Ombudsman for Croatia, Anka Slonjsak opened the event highlighting the importance of raising awareness of hate crime among disabled people themselves and those in positions to combat it. Legal and conceptual approaches to disability hate crime in the OSCE region were presented by Joanna Perry, hate crime officer, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. She gave an overview of approaches to disability hate crime and examples of how it has been defined and addressed in different countries in the OSCE region. The OSCE and ODIHR definition of hate crime outlines that it is a criminal offence committed with a bias motivation: robbery, assault, property damage, theft or murder. What makes it hate crime is the bias. Ethnicity, disability, religion and sexual orientation are all grounds for hate crime. She explained that Croatia was one of the few EU Member States with a comprehensive legal framework and of the importance of collecting data from other member states so the situation in each can be assessed.
During the Seminar, there was a workshop which allowed for discussion. Many issues in relation to disability hate crime were brought forward by the participants and discussed, such as ‘How to deal with the situation of continued harassment? and ‘How to tackle issues of community behaviour?’. Participants also shared their common experiences and brain stormed on how to take the next steps in raising more awareness of hate crime among local communities and government officials. One key point that came through in the discussion was that effective responses to hate crime can prevent its escalation. Paul Giannasi also presented at the Seminar and outlined the situation of disability hate crime in the United Kingdom and the policy that the Ministry of Justice have put in place to counteract this. 2007 was a turning point in the United Kingdom when four high profile cases garnered attention and measures to take hate crime more seriously were put in place since then.
One of the key outcomes of the Seminar was that participants looked at what they could do in their local area to prevent hate crime. Many participants agreed that there needs to be more training in local disabled people’s organisations, schools and community centres to raise awareness of disability hate crime with the aim of increasing the quality of life of disabled people.
As a result of the Seminar, Disability Hate Crime – A guide for disabled people’s organisations, law enforcement agencies, national human rights institutions, media and other stakeholders was created by ENIL in partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities of the Republic of Croatia. This guide explains:
- How to distinguish between crime, disability hate crime, hate incidents and hate speech
- How hate crime can affect victims
- How to report disability hate crime, with recommendations on how to combat hate crime and improve the life chances of disabled people.
The guide references research and statistics into this area and is based on the information publicly available from Governmental, Inter-Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations, such as the OSCE-ODIHR, Disability Rights UK, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, Interights and others. It also draws on information provided by ENIL’s members, many of whom are experts-by-experience and have direct experience of the issues outlined in the guide. The guide will be of relevance to disabled people, their families and allies, law enforcement agencies, local and national authorities, national human rights institutions, education and social care professionals, community groups and journalists.
We encourage you to share this document with your networks, promote it among decision and policy makers at the local and national level and use it as a tool to facilitate positive change, with an expectation that it will reduce hate crime and improve the life chances of disabled people.
Please click here to download the guide.