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In the context of hate crime, is racist motivation treated as an aggravating circumstance?

Key Area:
Anti-racist Crime Legislation & Implementation
20/12/2011 - 14:27
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

Racist motives are not explicitly mentioned as an aggravating factor to be considered by the court when determining the sentence. This has been an issue of concern and has been criticised by international bodies such as the UN (CERD and the Special Rapporteur on Racism) and ECRI on various occasions (e.g. UN 2010, ECRI 2009).  Section 46 StGB on the principles of determining the sentence contains, however, a general reference to the perpetrator's motives as one of several factors that should be taken into account. While defendable data on the use of this section in the context of racist hate crimes are not available, there is anecdotal information that judges tend to consider a racist motivation in cases of (attempted) homicide more than in cases of less severe crimes (e.g. bodily harm).


European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2009), Fourth Country Report on Germany – fourth monitoring cycle.

United Nations General Assembly/Human Rights Council (2010) Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances, Githu Muigai. Mission to Germany.

Groups affected/interested Migrants, Refugees, Roma & Travelers, Muslims, Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities, Linguistic minorities, Asylum seekers
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement
External Url
ECRI Report on Germany