Human Rights Watch: Russia Slow to Recognize ‘Hate’ as Motive for Targeting Victims of Crime

HRW: ‘I Only Wish I Could Exchange My Life for Another’

It’s significant that hostility towards LGBT people was acknowledged as a motivating factor precisely because hate crimes are a serious issue in Russia, and something that the United Nations experts who monitor Russia’s compliance with the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will examine in Geneva this week. It is a difficult task because Russian authorities don’t compile hate crime data and have not been contributing to the OSCE’s statistics on hate crimes, published annually by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Nevertheless, independent monitors flag that the most frequent victims of hate attacks in Russia are non-Slavs, religious minorities, and LGBT people.

Russia should ensure that authorities systematically recognize hate motives in a crime as an aggravating circumstance and launch mandatory training programs for law enforcement officials and judiciary. The government should also list hate crimes as a separate category in criminal statistics to give the public a clear picture of the issue’s scope and resume its reporting on hate crimes to the OSCE as part of contributing to international efforts aimed at resolving the problem.