MI study: communities vulnerable to experiencing hate crimes interviewed

Date

2020 01 13

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The study, commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, evaluated manifestations of hate crimes experienced by vulnerable communities in Lithuania and identified potential methods for prevention of hate crimes.

Possible hate incidents recorded during the investigation cover a wide spectrum ranging from verbal assaults to physical assaults and knife stabbings. A total of 35 qualitative interviews and 6 group discussions were conducted.

The study assessed the level of vulnerability, the impact of hate crimes and hate speech, the reasons for not seeking justice, and the needs for protection of five communities: the Jewish and Roma communities, LGBTI, persons of other races and Muslims living in Lithuania.

The study revealed that the Roma community potentially bears the biggest "burden" of hatred and is the least capable of defending their rights. A constant hostility of those around makes members of the Roma community shut themselves off, feel inadequate, marginalized, accept this hostility as a normal thing and stop fighting it.

It has been found that members of the Jewish and LGBT communities feel hostility not only among strangers, but also among co-workers and peers. Anti-Semitic stereotypes and jokes, expressed either directly or behind the backs, are part of the daily life of the Jewish community.

Alienation, negative attitudes and stereotypes also complicate the daily lives of Muslims and other races. These study participants also talked about bullying, armed threats, street fights and physical injuries.

Incidents of hatred intimidate communities, their members feel constant tension, fear and sense of insecurity. Therefore, some people try to hide their identity and become less visible to the public eye.

The study shows that the lack of appropriate measures to encourage incident reporting makes  premises for "normalization" of hate incidents, the violations are underestimated and not considered serious even by the victims themselves.

Participants of the study claimed that the main reason for not reporting incidents of hate was the belief that offenders would not be punished. All examined communities lack adequate support and representation.

The study participants state that they can feel changes in society and believe that the attitudes of the population towards the studied communities are gradually shifting to more positive.

The qualitative study was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania in cooperation with the Prosecutor General's Office and the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics in the framework of the project "Enhancing Response to Hate Crimes and Hate Speech in Lithuania", funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme of the European Union (2014-2020).