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Is there an estimate or evidence that hate crime cases/incidents are under-reported disproportionately in relation to other crimes?

Key Area:
Anti-racist Crime Legislation & Implementation
11/01/2012 - 13:09
Short Answer

Yes, there are references to underreporting in Equality Body and ECRI reports.

Qualitative Info

 Although there is no statistical method of comparing the reliability of crime data, the low number of racist crimes recorded by the police is a source of concern for both ECRI and the Equality Body.

In its 2011, ECRI refers to the recent increase in racist violence, attributed to a rise in extremist groups along with a reluctance on the part of the authorities to prosecute persons for offences related to racism or xenophobia, thus creating an atmosphere of impunity and demonstrating a lack of will to combat racism and racial discrimination (page 27 of the 2011 country report on Cyprus).  
In a report compiled after a racist attack against a black student in a school (Report Ref. ΑΚR 241/2008, dated 10.03.2009) the Equality body criticized the attitude of the police who failed to take an active stand against racism in spite of the victim’s unequivocal position that she wanted the case to go to Court, and stated that the lack of commitment of the police against racism will lead not only to the intensification of the phenomenon of racism but also to the vulnerable groups losing faith in the police and to the phenomenon of underreporting. The report further criticised the attitude of the teachers who refused to see a racist motive in the attack, attributing it to youth delinquency and concluded that as long as educationalists do not take an active stand against racism and prefer the oversimplified interpretation of youth delinquency and as long as incidents are not addressed and handled and assailants go unpunished, the phenomenon of racist violence will be reproduced, multiplied and underreported. This report, as well as several other Equality body reports (Ref. ΑΚR 37/2005, dated 11.07.2005; Ref. ΑΚR 7/2006, dated 01.08.2007; and Ref. ΑΚR/ΑΥΤ 2/2008, dated 26.01.2009) criticised the inadequacy of the system of recording racist incidents maintained by the police which clearly underestimates the problem of racist crime.
In January 2009 the equality body carried out a self-initiated investigation (Equality body report Ref. ΑΚΡ/ΑΥΤ 2/2008, dated 26.01.2009) into the handling by the police of a racial attack against migrants and found that the police demonstrated reluctance in prosecuting racist crime and in recording racial incidents. The police had informed the Equality body that in the particular case under investigation there did not seem to be a prima facie case of offenses in violation of the anti-discrimination legislation, a view which was criticised in the Equality body report. The Equality body concluded that the incident under investigation was not an isolated one and that there is an increase in the number and intensity of racial incidents. It notes that previous investigations have also shown the failure of the police to prosecute racial incidents, adding that although the legislative framework appears to be adequate, the authorities stubbornly refuse to prosecute racial incidents reported by victims or by NGOs or appearing in the media. The report notes with concern the fact that in the incident under investigation the migrants attacked did not file a complaint with the police, which indicates that vulnerable groups feel discouraged from reporting racial incidents for fear of deportation or for lack of trust in the police. The report added that the underreporting phenomenon shows a general failure of the existing system to record the real picture of racism in Cyprus.

Groups affected/interested Migrants, Refugees, Roma & Travelers, Muslims, Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities, Linguistic minorities, Asylum seekers
Type (R/D) Extremism - organised Racist Violence, Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Anti-semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, Arabophobia, Anti-roma/zinghanophobia, Religious intolerance, Inter-ethnic, Intra-ethnic, Nationalism
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement, Political discourse -parties - orgs, Anti-racism, Daily life
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