Registering racist violence

racist violenceRacist violence -- from verbal abuse, graffiti and harassment to arson, vandalism, physical assault or murder -- is the most heinous manifestation of racism and xenophobia and remains a common and persistent problem globally. Its impact stretches beyond the immediate victims to affect families, friends and whole communities. Individual incidents of racist violence and targeted victimisation instil fear in vulnerable communities. When governments and civil society fail to respond effectively to racist violence, by condemning it and seeking to prevent and punish it, then potential and actual victims can feel that their experiences of victimisation are not taken seriously. Ineffectual responses to racist violence send the message to perpetrators that their actions will go unpunished.

Already in 2005, the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia report on ‘Racist Violence in 15 EU Member States’ looked at the extent and nature of, and policy responses to, racist violence in the EU15, and concluded that without accurate data on the extent and nature of racist violence, states are hampered in their ability to develop effective policy responses, and that improved data collection is an important means to ensure a more effective response. New laws permitting enhanced sentencing for offences committed on racist/religious grounds can only be judged a ‘success’ if data mechanisms are in place to record how many cases are being sentenced under these new laws.

In Greece Law 927/1979 is the only specifically anti-racist criminal law, which punishes, amongst other things, ‘hatred or violence against persons or a group of persons, only due to their racial or national origin’. The law has been amended to include participation in organized racist groups and discrimination on the grounds of religion. Registering racist violence accurately and reliably is being encouraged by a network established in Greece by the National Committee for Human Rights and the UNHCR, which is open to all organisations contacting victims of racist violence. The following on line survey is part of this initiative and aims to report on the situation of racism and xenophobia in Greece.

Racist Violence Survey