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Best practices in countering SOGIESC-based hate crimes in Europe


October 31, 2022

Roundtable on SOGIESC-based hate crimes. Left to right: Sarah Molter, Michael Corbett, Piotr Godzisz, Florina Presada and Ketevan Vashakidze. Photo credits: Stephanie Cramer Marsal.
On 27 October 2022, I had the honour to be part of the European Roundtable on “Right to life, security and protection from violence: combating SOGIESC-based hate crime across Europe”.
As a Council of Europe consultant, I chaired one of three focus sessions, looking at the institutions that enforce hate crime (and related) legislation and policy, from charges to prosecution to remediation. This included examples of effective training for police forces, data collectors, judiciary members and communities.
The roundtable highlighted numerous promising practices, including two which I identified through my research on responses to hate crime in South-East and Eastern Europe within the project ENTER:
Georgia: Inter-agency memorandum on co-operation on collection of data on hate crime
Prosecutor Ketevan Vashakidze from the Department of Human Rights Protection, Prosecution Service of Georgia, described the cooperation on hate crime statistics between the Supreme Court, the Office of the General Prosecutor, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the National Statistics Office of Georgia (GeoStat). The agreement focuses on four main areas: concept of joint statistics on crimes committed on grounds of intolerance; classification of crimes committed on grounds of intolerance and the data to be processed; rules of collecting, processing, and analysing the data and preparing and publishing a joint statistical report; distribution of information between the parties. The work on the agreement was supported by the Council of Europe.
North Macedonia: Working group on hate crime legislation 
Professor Besa Arifi from the South-East European University discussed the work of the working group of experts established by the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia, which was tasked with the preparation of amendments to the criminal code regarding hate crime. The group brought together academics, government officials, judges, prosecutors, and human rights NGOs under the chairing of a distinguished criminal law scholar. The group carried out a study visit in Croatia, conducted legal analyses on possible legislative solutions and used locally available victimisation data to inform its works. The resulting draft amendment, introducing a legal definition of hate crime along with adding penalty enhancements to several offences, was submitted to the parliament as a government bill and was adopted with minimal changes. Technical and financial support was provided by the OSCE.
The European Roundtable was organised by the Council of Europe SOGI Unit together with the Irish Ministry for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Irish Ministry for Foreign Affairs as part of the annual thematic review of Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.  
Findings and outcomes from the discussions at the Roundtable will be reflected in the report published by the Council of Europe next year.


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