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Hate and intolerance must be combated more strongly as social climate worsens

September 30th 2015

Research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows that racism and xenophobia are a widespread problem in Europe today. As support for xenophobic and anti-migrant agendas grows, FRA calls in a special contribution to the European Commission’s first annual colloquium on fundamental rights for targeted awareness-raising measures, better data collection, and more effective access to justice for victims. The persistent lack of data is central to the Agency’s annual overview of data on antisemitism in the EU, which is also published today.

“The attacks we have seen this year in France, Denmark and elsewhere in the EU are part of a climate of intolerance that we must fight with all the means at our disposal,” said FRA interim Director Constantinos Manolopoulos. “There are many positive initiatives around the EU, but in the current situation this is not enough. The EU and its Member States need to take immediate and decisive action to combat extremist, xenophobic and antisemitic discourse and crimes.”

FRA points out in its annual overview of data on antisemitism in the EU that the reliable and comparable figures vital to help tackle the phenomenon effectively are currently missing. Not only do victims and witnesses need to be encouraged to report antisemitic incidents, but the authorities must also have systems in place to record them. The Working Party on combating hate crime set up by FRA in 2014 is cooperating with all 28 EU Member States to improve recording and encourage reporting of hate crime of all kinds, including antisemitic incidents. It also seeks to increase collaboration between government, law enforcement, prosecutors’ offices and NGOs, at the same time emphasising the importance of training for the police and others who work on the front line.

Existing evidence shows that antisemitism remains an issue of serious concern in the EU, demanding decisive and targeted policy responses. The effective implementation of these responses would not only protect Jewish communities, but also give a clear signal that the fundamental rights of everyone living in the EU are taken seriously and safeguarded.

On the eve of the European Commission’s first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, FRA is today also publishing a separate paper. This discusses the ways in which political rhetoric at local, national and European levels is currently exacerbating an aggressive tone subsequently echoed online through the press and social media, generating a sense of insecurity and fear among members of ethnic and religious minorities in the EU. FRA’s conference contribution Promoting respect and diversity - Combating intolerance and hate calls for greater efforts to acknowledge ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity in our societies and use it to bolster social cohesion and growth.

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CoE-FRA-ENNHRI-Equinet Platform on Hate crime

Equinet, together with European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Council of Europe and European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) work together within a cooperative platform on hate speech and hate crime, which aims to address gaps in combating hate crime, to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of hate crime and to contribute to improving the recording and reporting of hate crime. The platform also aims to enhance coordination, cooperation and exchange of information between national institutions, and European institutions and structures, as well as to facilitate cooperation between national institutions.