How can we improve hate crime reporting in Malta?

At the end of August (28-29), I attended a workshop on hate crime organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

ODIHR provides support, assistance and expertise to participating States and civil society to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights and tolerance and non-discrimination. It observes elections, reviews legislation and advises governments on how to develop and sustain democratic institutions. The Office also conducts training programmes for government and law-enforcement officials and non-governmental organizations on how to uphold, promote and monitor human rights.

The aim of the workshop was to familiarise civil society organisations with the concept of hate crime, especially in the context of migration, and introduce ODIHR’s work on reporting and addressing hate crimes in Europe.

This workshop was important for us all at aditus foundation, since we are searching for betters ways to support our beneficiaries when they are victims of hate crimes. In particular we are extremely concerned that, whilst we do know of hate crimes occurring in Malta, reporting levels remain extremely low…almost at level zero. My participation was funded by UNHCR Malta, for which aditus foundation is extremely grateful.

Participants

Around 30 people attended the training, all representatives of NGOs working mainly in Eastern Europe on topics related to migration.

Programme

The first day was dedicated to understanding, identifying and addressing hate crimes, while the second day was dedicated to the presentation of ODIHR’s work on monitoring and reporting hate crimes.

Civil Society contributions to the ODIHR’s Annual Hate Crime Reporting

ODIHR also introduced their website dedicated to hate crime. The goal is to improve access to the information ODIHR collects on hate crimes from States, civil society organisations, the media and the public in general.

ODIHR analyses the reports submitted by CSOs and publishes relevant information as ‘incidents’. This is because CSO reports cover a broad spectrum of acts and ODIHR is not in a position to verify whether all CSO reported incidents reach the necessary threshold to be recorded as criminal offences. Any organisation can send information to ODIHR about hate incidents.

The ODIHR Hate Incident Reporting Platform

ODIHR has also developed an online hate incident reporting platform for civil society organisations to report such crimes. Even if data collection about hate crime is primarily the responsibility of government institutions, lack of trust in law enforcement or lack of procedures often result in under recording and under reporting.  Therefore, CSOs are sometimes the only source of information or can supplement States’ activities to address hate crime.

The platform was created to facilitate this work so that CSOs can use it to monitor and record hate crimes and incidents. It consists of an online reporting form and a reports database. It can help civil society organisations in collecting and storing systematic data, helping to better understand the security needs of the communities and helping victims to connect with local civil society organisations. Civil society organisations  can upload the online form onto their website. The database collects and safely stores the reports.

Need to more about hate crimes?

Check out these useful guides prepared by the ODIHR. In Malta, hate crimes are covered under Article 83B of the Criminal Code:

The punishment established for any offence shall be increased by one to two degrees when the offence is aggravated or motivated, wholly or in part by hatred against a person or a group, on the grounds of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, religion or belief or political or other opinion…

Article 83B, Criminal Code

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