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VIENNA, 16 November 2012 – Hate crimes continue to be a serious problem across the OSCE region despite efforts to address them in many participating States, concludes an annual report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Vienna today, on the International Day for Tolerance.

The report for 2011 includes information on numerous instances where individuals, groups or their property were the targets of violence based on ethnic, religious or other grounds.

“Over the past year, a number of steps have been taken by the OSCE and by individual states to highlight and address the problem of hate crimes,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR. “But the level of bias-motivated violence across the region remains a cause for serious concern.”

The report Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses outlines a spectrum of violence, ranging from intimidation, threats, vandalism and assault to arson and murder. It includes a set of recommendations to help OSCE participating States improve their national legal systems and provide them with tools for effectively combating hate crimes.

“ODIHR has broad expertise in training police and prosecutors to assist states, upon their request, in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes,” Lenarčič said. “The Training against Hate Crimes for Law Enforcement programme, for example, can help improve police skills in recognizing, understanding and investigating bias-motivated crimes.”

The report includes separate sections on racist and anti-Semitic crimes; on violence against Roma and Sinti, Muslims, Christians and members of other religions; and on crimes based on other bias motivations.

The report is based on the data received from the 36 participating States who responded to a request for information by ODIHR, as well as on reports of hate crime incidents from 72 non-governmental organizations from the entire OSCE region.

While the quality of data received from participating States has improved, the report notes, it is still difficult to identify trends and assess the true extent of the problem due to remaining significant gaps in data collection and the use of different definitions across the region.

The report can be viewed here.