Time to Raise the Game against Disability Hate Crime

Time to Raise the Game against Disability Hate Crime

Brussels, 29 November – Tomorrow, on 30 November, the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) will hold a roundtable on disability hate crime. The event will focus on three questions: what is disability hate crime; key findings of ENIL’s research in 2016; and improving cooperation among different actors to better prevent and address disability hate crime.

Hate crime against different minority groups is on the rise across Europe, and disability hate crime is no exception. Disability hate crime is a crime motivated by hostility or prejudice, because the victim is a disabled person or is perceived to be disabled.

Labelled as a burden on society, benefit scroungers and benefit cheats, disabled people often find themselves at the receiving end of violence, harassment and abuse. Yet, disability hate crime is still not recognized in many countries. This means that the relevant laws do not include disability among the “protected characteristics”, unlike, for example, religion, ethnic origin, race or sexual orientation. Another issue that needs to be addressed is how the “vulnerability” of disabled people is used to dismiss the crimes committed against them.

ENIL has worked for a number of years with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to raise awareness about disability hate crime. Recognising the link between independent living and addressing hate crime, we have focused on sharing good practice in recording, reporting, preventing and addressing hate crime in Europe. This work has targeted disabled people and their organisations, national human rights institutions, law enforcement agencies and legal professionals.

Tomorrow’s roundtable will bring together those involved in efforts against disability hate crime at EU level – OSCE/ODIHR, CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, the Croatian Disability Ombudsman and the Norwegian Civil Rights Foundation, to define the actions needed to address this rising problem. These will be shared with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the civil society – with the aim of ensuring EU Member States and its institutions raise their game against disability hate crime.

Image credits: Avon and Somerset Constabulary

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