Arson attacks, violence, even murder, and everyday harassment are just some of the worrying hate crime incidents flagged in the latest summary report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on migration-related fundamental rights in selected EU Member States. It points to tension and hostility towards migrants and asylum seekers, underscoring the need for concerted EU and Member State action in line with fundamental rights.
The report identifies serious and widespread incidents of violence, harassment, threats and hate speech towards migrants and asylum seekers, and their children, across 14 EU Member States. Human rights advocates, ‘pro-refugee’ politicians and journalists have also been targeted.
It points to some of the perceived perpetrators, and highlights the problem of under-reporting and under-recording of hate crime which impedes efforts to find effective responses.
Some of the main findings include:
- Most Member States do not collect or publish statistical data on hate crime incidents against asylum seekers and migrants; civil society often are the main sources of information.
- Vigilantes and the general public are often behind the attacks.
- Offline and online hate speech, including by public figures who sometimes even condone attacks, is fuelling open intolerance.
- This intolerance is spilling over to other parts of society with Muslims, especially women, and people from ethnic backgrounds, particularly targeted.
- Asylum seekers and migrants rarely report hate crimes to authorities or other organisations for a number of reasons. These include: a lack of trust in the police and public authorities; fear of arrest, being deported or of retaliation; a belief that nothing will change; and language barriers. Under-reporting also leads to the issue being buried.
- State responses to hate crime against asylum seekers and migrants are perceived as weak by civil society in many Member States.
- Victim support services that meet the needs of asylum seekers and migrants are rare. Asylum seekers and migrants also have limited access to existing support.
EU laws offer protection to victims and the Agency has compiled information about various initiatives that tackle hate crime in the EU. However, Member States lack the robust data they need to prevent hate crime, and protect and promote the rights of migrants and asylum seekers in an increasingly openly intolerant Europe.
The European Commission asked the Agency to collect data about the fundamental rights situation of people arriving in Member States, particularly affected by large migration movements. As of this month, the reports cover the situation in 14 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
For more information, see Fundamental Rights Agency website here