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Hate Crime: what is it and what to do when facing it?

What is a hate crime?

View information in Lithuanian, English, Russian languages.

A tagged car, a broken store window or a stolen cane may at first all seem like random acts of violence until we look at the motivation behind them. The car that was tagged, belonged to a lesbian couple known in the neighborhood; the store is owned by a Turkish man and is a meeting place for the city’s Muslim community; and the cane was taken from a blind person to have a little laugh over his confusion. 

All these acts have something in common: they are motivated by prejudice, bias and hostility against a certain group of people. They are acts that attack one’s core identity – something that they can’t necessarily change or hide. Parts of core identity are for example skin color, ethnic origin, nationality, language, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or age.

When these kinds of acts constitute a crime, they are called hate crimes, but more broadly, we can refer to them as bias motivated incidents. These incidents have a deep impact on the survivors, as their core identity is attacked. You can replace your stolen wallet with a new one, but you cannot alter who you are – and why should you do that in the first place? This is why hate crime needs special attention.

Incidents motivated by homophobia, racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance or other prejudice happen more frequently than we realise. For example, in Europe, as many as 1 out of 4 LGBT people say they have been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years, while almost 30% of Jewish people feel they have been harassed.

Imagine having to fear for your safety or the safety of your loved ones every time you step outside…

And bias motivated incidents also affect society as a whole. The more we look away, the more we normalise prejudiced and hateful behaviour. Without condemnation and real consequences, what begins with an angry slur, can escalate into acts that are much worse – property damage or even physical attacks. Hostile attitudes destabilise society and make it more unsafe for everyone. 

So next time you see or experience something that you think might be a hate crime or a bias motivated incident, let someone know. Report it to the police or notify the human rights organizations.

Because if you don’t, perpetrators will walk away with a little bit of extra assurance that they can carry on like that.

(You can watch the video with English, Russian or Lithuanian subtitles)

What is hate speech?

Have you noticed statements in the media, from your friends or on social media that say something like that:

“XXX are filthy animals, it’s only good they were killed”

“We don’t need more of these XXX rats in our country” 

“XXX have lower IQ, they’re like monkeys and should be treated as such” 

“These XXX shouldn’t be allowed to show themselves in public”

This is hate speech. Rooting itself into our society to the point it may go unnoticed or even be confused with freedom of speech.

But this freedom cannot be used to undermine other human rights, as hate speech humiliates and degrades people for who they are.

For their skin color, ethnic origin, nationality, language, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or age.

And hate speech can appear everywhere. On the streets or online. It can be anonymous, expressed by someone you know or even promoted by politicians.

The worst thing is that hate speech incites hostility and violence, creating a climate in which targeted groups are more likely to face discrimination, aggression and abuse, even if the call for violence is not explicitly made. 

If hate speech is not tackled in the society, it can escalate into acts that are much worse – property damage or even physical attacks. So next time you witness hate speech, take action! If you have noticed hate speech on the Internet – report it to the administration of the website. Most of the websites and social networks have terms of service prohibiting incitement to hatred and special reporting tools. You can use these tools or report hate speech directly to the website’s administrator. You can also inform the police about incitement to hatred or calls to violence. European Foundation of Human Rights can also help you with reporting hate speech.

If no action is taken, oppressors will walk away with a little bit of extra assurance that they can carry on like that.

(You can watch the video with English, Russian or Lithuanian subtitles)

What to do if you are attacked?

If you or someone you know experienced a hate incident or hate crime, you can find help and support in various different places.

If you have experienced something like this, you should report it to the police. If it is an emergency, please call 112 now. Otherwise, you can report it online at www.epolicija.lt

There are also NGOs like that can help you. If you need free legal advice, you can contact the European Foundation of Human Rights. There is also a special app to report LGBT hate crime on www.uni-form.eu.

You can always contact “Vilties Linija” by calling 116 123, “Krizių įveikimo centras” by 8640 51555, “Jaunimo Linija” by 8 800 28888 or “Pagalbos Moterims Linija” on 8 800 6366 for support.

They’ll provide counselling, necessary information and help you communicate with other institutions, if needed.

Just let someone know. You don’t have to be in this alone. 

And remember: you’re not a victim, you are a survivor. 

(You can watch the video with English, Russian or Lithuanian subtitles)

What to do if you witness a hate crime?

Hate crimes are appalling, but each and every one of us who witnessed hate crime can help. So what can you do?

  • First, make sure you are safe. Don’t rush into a situation you cannot control.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable taking action alone, find other witnesses to come to your aid.
  • Immediately call 112, so help can get there in time.
  • You can also make noise to scare off the attacker or give the victim time to escape.
  • To help catch the criminals, try to memorise as much information as you can. Take notes or photos if possible: the time, the place, a license plate number or an outfit can all be important.
  • Also you can gather names and phone numbers of other witnesses to help the police later. Testimony, even if anonymous, can be very helpful.
  • Most importantly, be there for the victim, if you can. If needed, speak to them calmly and provide assistance so you can decide on the appropriate next steps together.

No one deserves to feel unsafe, especially just for being who they are. Help notice and report hate crime.

(You can watch the video with English, Russian or Lithuanian subtitles)

 

Development of these videos was financially supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme under the Grant Agreement number 809533–PONGO–REC-AG-2017/REC-RRAC-RACI-AG-2017; project titled ‘Police and NGO Cooperation to Combat Hate Crime in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: PONGO’. The content of these videos represents the views of the authors only and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

 

This project is co-funded by the European Union


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Disability Hate Crime in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Violence and crime experienced by persons with disabilities is widespread across the world. Yet, in the Baltic countries there is a significant latency and lack of data and statistics with regards to persons with disabilities as crime victims, including hate crimes. Similar trends are identified across all three Baltic countries, where states fail to recognise, record and investigate disability hate crimes.

 

Human Rights Monitoring Institute together with Lithuanian Disability Forum and other partners have developed these recommendations aimed at three different stakeholder groups:

1) decision makers;

2) law enforcement and victim support services;

3) non-governmental organizations and the community of persons with disabilities.

A set of unique recommendations are provided for each Baltic country separately. Also general recommendations are compiled with regards to all three Baltic States, for reforming legal regulations, reshaping practices and raising awareness about the need for recognizing and adequately responding to disability hate crimes.

Some additional recommendations aim to raise awareness in the general public, about persons with disabilities and their human rights, including: respecting and promoting their dignity, decreasing stigmatization, promoting social inclusion and accessibility to all services, including access to justice and victim support.

Recommendations in Lithuanian.

Development of these recommendations was financially supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme under the Grant Agreement number 809533–PONGO–REC-AG-2017/REC-RRAC-RACI-AG-2017; project titled ‘Police and NGO Cooperation to Combat Hate Crime in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: PONGO’. The content of this document represents the views of the authors only and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

 

This project is co-funded by the European Union

 


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