Registration Network of Racist Violence
Athens, May 6th: The Registration Network of Incidents of Racist Violence has published today its annual report for the year 2014, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of racist violence and hate crimes based on information provided by all the participating organizations in this Network. The report also includes the Network’s standpoint regarding accessibility of the victims to the police and the justice system. Concluding, suggestions are made for combating hate crime and police brutality motivated by race.
Between January and December 2014 the Network conducted interviews with victims and recorded 81 incidents of racist violence that victimized over 100 individuals. Immigrants and refugees constituted the majority of victims as they were targeted in 46 cases, citing their country of origin or their skin colour as the motive. LGBTQI people were victims in 32 incidents, however in three of those cases the victim was also an immigrant. Finally, during three antisemitic incidents, sacred spaces and symbols of the jewish religion were desecrated.
The Network has discovered evidence indicating that the Greek society is becoming accustomed to the targeting and violent treatment of people on account of their differences. This conclusion is based on three different qualitative trends that characterize the recorded incidents.
Firstly, assaults against refugees and immigrants still constitute the majority of the recorded attacks, despite the penal handling of criminal acts motivated by race after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. In spite of the decreasing intensity of the attacks, the pattern of organized racist crime by groups of people and the level of physical assaults are far from being eliminated.
Secondly, an increase in violence against LGBTQI individuals has been observed. Many attacks against homosexual people and couples with the obvious intention to subject them to a demeaning treatment have been recorded. Moreover, particularly fierce attacks against people with non-conforming gender identities have been registered.
Thirdly, the involvement of police officers in racist violence remains particularly worrisome. The lack of an independent investigative body to probe accusations against arbitrary police behaviour, only reinforces the inadequacy to efficiently handle cases exhibiting breach of legal processes. As a result, any effort of the state to combat racist crime is undermined.
A comparison of registered and reported incidents in 2014 shows an increase in reporting by victims identified as immigrants and refugees. The police and judicial investigation of the activities of extremist groups through cases connected to the Golden Dawn, has contributed positively to the empowerment of victims. Their testimonies reveal that any actual form of solidarity and respect expressed by eye witnesses empowers victims and helps them follow the required steps for the investigation of the case.
The Network has welcomed the adoption of legislative regulations regarding victim and key witness protection. Nevertheless, it clarifies that the state ought to safeguard the substantive access to the police and judicial authorities, aside formalities. Similarly, the Nework will continue to carefully observe the practices of the competent authorities towards their obligation to investigate racist motives, since they are now regarded as aggravating factors in sentencing by current legislation (article 81A P.C.)
Beyond these conclusions, the Network calls on the State not become apppeased, but in contrast to increase its efforts to limit the spread of racist violence. This preconditions measures that will aim at protecting the vulnerable groups that victims typically belong. Simultaneousy and through the prism of recent developments regarding the increased influx of migration to the country, the State is obliged to apply prevention measures and adopt a zero-tolerance stance against race motivated violence.