Belfast Telegraph

Report finds Ireland is failing to meet hate crime obligations

The Hate and Hostility Research Group presented its findings to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

A report has found that the Irish State is failing to meet its obligations in relation to hate crime (PA)
A report has found that the Irish State is failing to meet its obligations in relation to hate crime (PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

A report has found that the Irish State is failing to meet its obligations in relation to hate crime.

Researchers based at the University of Limerick presented the report to the United Nations Committee, which claims that gardai are “wilfully ignoring” racial profiling

The Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) at the university was asked by the Coalition Against Hate Crime to write an alternative report for the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the issue of hate crime and related matters.

Presenting its findings on Monday at the United Nations in Geneva, the HHRG, led by Dr Jennifer Schweppe and Dr Amanda Haynes, says that a majority of previous recommendations by the committee have not been implemented by the Irish State.

Dr Sindy Joyce, who also presented the findings, said: “Ireland, and its police, are wilfully ignoring racial profiling, which is highlighted in the fact that children as young as four years of age were entered onto the garda Pulse system and given criminal tag numbers.”

Dr Haynes added: “These hearings give us an important opportunity to highlight the policy vacuum in Ireland with respect to hate crime.”

The report examined four specific issues and presented findings and summary recommendations for each.

One issue related to the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.

The researchers found that it was not clear how many convictions there have been under the act, that civil society organisations, academics and practitioners have described the act as ineffective and that the Irish Law Reform Commission considers the Act to be ineffectual in combating online hate speech.

According to the State in its reports to CERD, the Act has been undergoing review for almost two decades.

In relation to hate crime, data collected indicated that a majority of victims of hate crime in Ireland do not report to the police.

Research also shows that the hate element of a crime is often “disappeared” through the criminal process due to a lack of training and the absence of legislation.

The question as to whether hate crime legislation should be introduced has been under ongoing review for almost two decades, it found.

It also found that there is no clear statement in law as to the illegality of racial profiling, there is no official data on racial profiling available and there is no evidence that members of An Garda Siochana have received training in relation to racial profiling.

It also examined training in the criminal justice process and found that there are only 247 Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs) available across the State, and the new Garda Diversity and Inclusion Strategy omits any reference, or commitment, to the role.

Research has documented significant shortcomings in the training made available to ELOS and to the gardai.

In 12 of 13 previous recommendations made by CERD to the State in previous observations, the report found that there they have either not been followed, or there is no available evidence to show that they have been followed or if they have been implemented or not.

The report has recommended publishing the outcomes of the Department of Justice and Equality’s review of the 1989 act “as a matter of urgency” and providing training across the criminal justice sector.

Dr Jennifer Schweppe added: “The State has had hate crime and hate speech under review for nearly two decades, without action.

“The Committee has chosen hate crime and incitement to hatred as two issues it specifically wants the State to address and we look forward to having a discussion with the Committee on these issues.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph