In a report launched today by Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Ireland is shown to be seriously deficient in addressing hate crime. The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland shows that from the point at which a victim reports a crime to An Garda Síochána to the point at which a judge sentences an offender, the hate element of a crime is filtered out of the criminal justice process. This report was funded by the European Commission and is the product of a two year international research project involving five EU states, coordinated by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). The Irish research was conducted by the Hate and Hostility Research Group at the University of Limerick.
The National Steering Group Against Hate Crime, a coalition of civil society organisations, has called for the introduction of hate crime legislation for a number of years. The authors of the Lifecycle Report highlight that the absence of any laws against hate crime has led to a “policy vacuum” in relation to crimes motivated by prejudice in Ireland.
Launching the report, Emily Logan said:
“Hate Crime has a real-world, oppressive and damaging effect on those who fall victim to it. Hate Crime can cause people to withdraw from society and avoid expressing their identity. When unchallenged, hate crime carries consequences well beyond the immediate victim. It has the power to act as a ‘message crime’ – the ability to send out a message to an entire community – to warn off those who stray from the norm. It can also cause people to alter their daily lives to avoid further victimisation, including moving neighbourhood or job. It is not the responsibility of victims to avoid being targets of hate crime: the State, as the principal duty bearer – has a responsibility to send a clear message to society that hate crime is not tolerated.”
Author of the report, Dr Amanda Haynes, said at the launch:
“From the moment of reporting a hate crime, to the moment where the judge sentences an offender, the hate element of a crime is progressively filtered out of the criminal justice system in Ireland. The criminal justice process is not responsive to victims’ experiences of targeted hostility against their identity. There is no certainty that a hate motivation will be presented in court. There is no way of recording that an offender has committed a hate crime, meaning that is no way of addressing this type of offending behaviour and no way of recognising recidivists. ‘Hate crime’ simply is not part of the language of the Irish criminal justice process. ”
Author of the report, Jennifer Schweppe, said at the launch:
“The EU Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia requires member states to ensure that a racist motivation is taken into account at sentencing. The European Court of Human Rights has also made clear that states are under an obligation to ensure that a hate element is properly investigated in all cases. Unfortunately, the criminal justice process in Ireland does not provide those working in the system with the tools to ensure that these two obligations are met. People experience hate crime every single day in our country, and it is time that politicians recognised this, and send a clear message through legislation that it is not acceptable.”
Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties who were the lead partner on this European Commission funded study which was carried out across five jurisdictions, said:
“This report identifies significant gaps in Irish law, policy and criminal justice practice around how we respond to the problem of hate crime. This project has also afforded us the opportunity to benefit for the experience of other countries who have grappled with this issue and points to how balanced and effective responses to hate crime can be developed. ICCL has been proud to be part of this important initiative.”
REPORT LAUNCH will be held at 1pm on 4 July at IHREC buildings. Speakers will include all above-named persons, alongside Professor Barbara Perry of the University of Ontario. Media welcome.
LINK TO REPORT – “Lifecycle of a Hate Crime – Irish National Report
BACKGROUND NOTE – LIFECYCLE OF A HATE CRIME PROJECT
This report was part of a two-year EU funded research project across five EU member states – Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The full details of the project and the other national reports and the project’s comparative report are available at https://www.iccl.ie/hatecrime/
BACKGROUND NOTE – EU FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AGENCY REPORT:
In a report published in December 2017 by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Ireland ranked highest among the EU Member States in which respondents from a sub-Saharan background experienced 6 or more physical attacks due to their ethnic or immigrant background in the 5 years preceding the survey (21% of respondents compared to the EU group average of 9%). 8% of respondents in Ireland reported having experienced 6 or more physical attacks due to their ethnic or immigrant background in the 12 months prior to the survey, compared to an EU group average of 2%. In an earlier FRA study, published in 2014, Ireland recorded the second highest rate of hate-motivated violence against transgender people in Europe: In the 12 months prior to the survey, 13% of trans respondents in Ireland reported having been physically or sexually assaulted or threatened with violence, in attacks either wholly or partly motivated by transphobia, compared to the EU average of 8%.
BACKGROUND NOTE – NATIONAL STEERING GROUP AGAINST HATE CRIME:
The National Steering Group Against Hate Crime is a coalition of civil society organisations, which aims to promote meaningful reform of law, policy and practice as it relates to hate crime in Ireland including, but not limited to, hate crime legislation; reporting and recording of hate crime and hate incidents; education; training and awareness raising activities; hate speech; cyber hate crime.