23 July, 2015

10 hints for Victims and Witnesses

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Category: Victims of hate crime
Community Manager
10 am

black heart másolata másolataIF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF HATE CRIME OR IF YOU ARE A WITNESS OF HATE CRIME

It may happen to any of us. Take it very seriously and consider the following points.

 

1. DON’T IGNORE AND HIDE

Even in the 21st century people are still being abused or attacked simply because they’re who they are – gay, black, Roma, Muslim, trans, disabled …Whether it’s being shouted at, threatened, beaten up, having your car vandalised or being conned out of money, being targeted simply because you’re different is wrong and needs to be stopped.

2. WHAT IS A ‘HATE CRIME’ ANYWAY?

Basically, ‘hate crime’ means that if someone commits a crime against you because of your race, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity or disability, culture or social situation, in most countries they can get a tougher sentence. You don’t have to prove they hate you, just that they are hostile. If a case goes to court, the judge considers whether the person was hostile towards you because you’re who you are (or because they thought you were) before deciding the sentence. Check out the national legislation regarding hate crime in your country! If you are member of an often targetted group make sure that you know the specific legislation and can act accordingly.

3. IGNORANCE IS AGREEMENT

Hopefully we all know that violence should be reported but many people experience verbal abuse or harassment and just shrug it off. This can be just as damaging and lead to something worse. It may also be a criminal offence. So whether it’s a stranger publicly encouraging others to hate gay people, a neighbour harassing you because you have a learning disability or a colleague posting antisemitic abuse on your Facebook page, never ignore it, report it.

4. WHY BOTHER?

The police can only do something about people or things they know about. We all know that the person who shouts antisemitic, transphobic or racist abuse on the street today may well end up doing something more violent in the future if they think they can get away with it. If the police don’t know about what’s going on, they can’t prevent things getting worse. So tell them. Even if you’re not sure it’s actually a crime. If the police is reluctant to properly investigate, you can also contact human rights organisations for help.

5. WHERE TO ASK FOR HELP

If you feel you’re in immediate danger, call the police now! If it’s not urgent you can call the police later. Make sure you tell them you think the incident was a hate crime and why you think this. Did the perpetrators say or do something to make you think it was? Were you targeted somewhere in particular ? Or was there something else? Whatever it is, make sure the police record it!  If your country does not fully respect Human Rights, make sure that you only contact institutions that work on the basis of Human Rights.

6. HAVE NO FEAR

So the police got things wrong in the past so you may be worried they won’t take hate crimes seriously. In most European countries the police can’t treat you any worse just because you’re different. Some areas have special officers to look into hate crimes. In case you feel that you need special protection contact a local or national human rights organisation or a victim support organisation. You can find them easily online, if you search for it in your own language.

7.  IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE POLICE

There are other ways to report what’s happened. Tell your family member or friend you trust, and search for special organisations and institutions that can provide you guidance and protection. Do not keep itt o yourself. In some countries there’s a special police website for reporting hate crimes.

8. GETTING HELP

Once you’ve reported a crime you should also contact a Victim Support organisation. Visit http://victimsupporteurope.eu/members/ and find the organisation in your country, contact them and explain what happened. They can help in several aspect from psychological to legal support.

9. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A COMPLAINT OR SHOW APPRECIATION

Public bodies need feedback to learn and make improvements – they can only make things better if they know it’s going wrong. So if you don’t like the way you’re being treated by the police or others, note down the person’s name or ID number. If you have a good experience, tell people about it. This will give others the confidence to go to the police if they experience a hate crime.

10. HATE SPEECH IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS HATE CRIMES

Never leave hate speech uncommented. Make very clear statements that incitment to hate is not acceptable and it should not be expressed that way. If those who publiclly produce hate speech online or offline are reacted very clearly from the beginning they may feel that this is publicly not acceptable and if they do not receive reinforcement and agreement they may stop doing it. Hate speech fuels hate crimes and remember that all those little hate speeches may add up to a hate crime in somebody’s mind.

 

Hate speech and hate crimes may have very serious consequences on society and on its members.

It may result in suicide as well as homicide.


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