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Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, A/HRC/26/50, 10 April 2014

II. Extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo-Nazis, skinhead groups and similar extremist ideological movements, particularly in the context of the current economic crisis

B. The persistence of persecution, racial violence and xenophobic crimes against vulnerable groups

10. Indeed, an increase in incidents involving racist violence perpetrated by extremist movements and groups, including neo-Nazis, skinheads and other right-wing movements, was reported in some countries, particularly in Eastern and Southern Europe. In that regard, the Special Rapporteur is concerned about reported cases of violence and harassment perpetrated by neo-Nazis and skinheads against individuals of African descent. He is also concerned by information indicating that Roma have been the target of intolerance and blamed for criminality by mainstream political parties and Governments in Europe and continue to be at a high risk of racist and xenophobic violence by individuals or groups with close ties to extremist political parties, movements and groups. Cases of attacks by skinheads against groups of Roma leading to injuries were also reported in Southern and Eastern Europe. Similarly, far-right groups have targeted houses and settlements inhabited by Roma. Furthermore, according to information received, threatening fascist messages and swastikas have been frequently tagged on Roma houses or near their settlements. Also of particular concern are reports indicating that in some countries, Muslims, Jews, gays and lesbians have been physically targeted by those same individuals or groups linked to extremist political parties, movements or groups.

14. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that individuals in vigilante groups also target persons on the basis of their sexual orientation. He was informed about attacks by individuals linked to extreme right and neo-Nazi groups who had beaten homosexual men and lesbian women during or after public demonstrations calling for the recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights. It was also reported that extreme right and neo-Nazi groups have filmed attacks on gay men they had kidnapped, beaten and humiliated, then posted the clips on social networks and encouraged others to imitate those acts. The Special Rapporteur draws the attention of States and relevant authorities to prejudice and behaviour that tends to stigmatize and place individuals in a single category, whether racial or sexual, and calls for better protection for the LGBT community against extremist groups and discrimination.

15. The Special Rapporteur recalls that the identity of each individual is made up of a multitude of components, including race and ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, profession, sexual orientation, political opinion, religious affiliation and social origin. It is essential that appropriate measures be taken by States to address the multiple and often interlinked forms of discrimination faced by individuals on the basis of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin and sexual orientation. The Special Rapporteur calls for further tolerance, mutual understanding and respect for all, without prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination of any kind.

C. Ensuring better protection of victims and preventing racist and xenophobic crimes against vulnerable groups

20. The collection of accurate and up-to-date ethnically disaggregated data on racist and xenophobic crimes is therefore important, since it may help inform policy decisions on combating such crimes. The Special Rapporteur is concerned about the continued underreporting of racist crimes as it distorts statistics and data, and may as a result create the impression that crimes motivated by racism, xenophobia and related intolerance are less prevalent than they actually are. The Special Rapporteur encourages States that have not yet developed a system to collect ethnically disaggregated data to do so. He also reiterates the importance of collecting accurate statistics and disaggregated data on racist, xenophobic and homophobic crimes. He encourages States and civil society to establish detailed systems for recording, reporting and monitoring all such incidents and to encourage victims to report them.

V. Countering Holocaust denial and the distortion of History

35. Holocaust denial is an attempt to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jews, Roma, gays and lesbians as well as political opponents. Key denial assertions include that the murder of approximately six million Jews during the Second World War never occurred, that the Nazis had no official policy or intention to exterminate the Jews, and that the extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau never existed.

VI. Good practices developed to counter extremist political parties, movements and groups, including neo-Nazis, skinhead groups and similar extremist ideological movements

43. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the legislative developments at the domestic level in different countries. A growing number of States have either enacted specific laws or included in their general Criminal or Penal Codes provisions on aggravating circumstances for offences committed on the grounds of persecution or hatred based on gender, race, nationality or religion, sexual orientation, migration status, or for the purpose of completely or partially annihilating a national, ethnic, racial or religious group or individual. Similarly, a number of States have included provisions in their migration and refugee statutes that reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination and mandate the specific institutions in charge of those issues to take all measures necessary to prevent discrimination against migrants and refugees. Furthermore, a growing number of States prohibit racial discrimination, xenophobia and homophobia in their Constitutions and in specific laws.

46. The Special Rapporteur notes with interest that some States and national human rights institutions have developed data collection systems on hate crimes, including crimes committed against individuals on the grounds of race, colour, ethnicity, origin or minority status, citizenship, language, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or transgender status. It was also reported that some States collect data specifically on racist crimes committed by members of extremist groups. The Special Rapporteur also noted that, in the absence of official data in some States, non-governmental organizations play a key role in collecting statistical data on hate crimes. He welcomes those initiatives, which facilitate the assessment of the prevalence of such crimes and the impact of legislation.

VII. Conclusions and recommendations

52. In order to prevent and address in an effective manner the perpetration of racist or xenophobic crimes by individuals and groups of individuals closely linked to extremist political parties, movements and groups, States should also introduce into their criminal legislation provisions indicating that the commission of an offence with a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic or homophobic motivation or aim constitutes an aggravating circumstance resulting in heavier sanctions.

Link to full text of the report: Report-SRRacism-HRC-Nazism-2014-eng