Number of hate crimes on the increase
There has been an increase in hate crimes over recent times, as well as a rise in the use of hate speech by civil servants. At a press conference in Lviv on 11 May, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Yevhen Zakharov said that last year 36 people were victims of hate crime. Over the period of monitoring – 2010-2011, 48 victims were identified and 27 incidents. There was a surge in the numbers in 2011, the first time since 2008. He noted that there had also been an increase in attacks on people only because they were speaking English, and expressed concern over this given the proximity of Euro 2012.
Another dangerous trend was seen in a number of attacks based on the language or territorial origin, and suggested that politicians’ attempts to divide the country on those grounds had had impact on the public. They had registered 12 such cases, he said.
The oarticipants in the press conference reported that during their monitoring period, they had recorded 38 cases of hate speech from civil servants, Such cases often involved Roma people.
8 cases had been recorded involving members of radical rightwing groups. These mainly involved rightwing attacks on leftwing radical though there had been opposite cases.
Mr Zakharov said that they believe that there needs to be a change in the authorities’ attitude to such things, and suggests introducing administrative liability for such actions. He considers this much more effective than criminal prosecution. At present Article 161 of the Criminal Code is scarcely applied and the changes made in 2009 envisaging treating hate motives as an aggravating circumstance, had not once been applied.