Racist crime and discrimination grossly under-reported

EU survey of minorities and immigrants sheds new light on extent of racism in EU 24th April 2009: A new survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reveals that discrimination, harassment and racially motivated violence are far more widespread than recorded in official statistics.

This is the first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups’ experiences of discrimination and racist crime.

The results suggest a sense of resignation among ethnic minorities and immigrants who appear to lack confidence in mechanisms to protect victims. The FRA calls on EU governments to improve the situation, by promoting the reporting and recording of discrimination and racist crime, fully applying anti-discrimination laws, and better informing vulnerable minorities about their rights.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "The survey reveals how large the ‘dark figure’ of racist crime and discrimination really is in the EU. Official racism figures only show the tip of the iceberg".

55% of migrants and minorities surveyed by the FRA think that discrimination based on ethnic origin is widespread in their country, and 37% say that they have personally experienced discrimination in the past 12 months. 12% personally experienced a racist crime in the past 12 months. However, 80% of these did not report the incident to the police.

Roma reported the highest levels of discrimination, with one in two respondents saying that they were discriminated against in the last 12 months. High levels of discrimination were also mentioned by Sub-Saharan Africans (41%) and North Africans (36%).

Kjaerum: "The survey shows that the overwhelming majority does not report their experiences of discrimination or racist crime to any competent body. Thousands of cases of racist crime and discrimination remain invisible. This means that the perpetrators go unpunished, victims do not obtain justice, and policy-makers are unable to take the appropriate action that prevents violations from recurring. This new survey data will hopefully promote awareness of the need to develop more targeted policy responses to address this social ill".

Sense of resignation among minorities and migrants

82% of respondents who said that they had been discriminated against did not report their most recent experience. When asked for the main reason for not reporting discrimination, 64% of respondents said that they believed nothing would happen or change if they reported the incident. At the same time, 80% did not know of any organisation that could offer support or advice to victims of discrimination. This reveals an urgent need for better information, but could also reflect a real absence of support services in some Member States.

"This raises important questions such as how to increase rights awareness and build confidence in existing protection mechanisms", said Morten Kjaerum. "It is important to encourage those who have been discriminated against or harassed to report their experiences and to be reassured that their complaints will be taken seriously".

Roma most vulnerable to discrimination

Of all the groups surveyed by the FRA, the Roma emerge as the most vulnerable to discrimination and racist crime. The report on the Roma reveals a bleak picture for the estimated 12 million Roma in the EU. Roma reported the highest overall levels of discrimination across all areas surveyed. 66-92% of Roma (depending on the country) did not report their most recent experience of discrimination to any competent authority. Lack of confidence in law enforcement and justice structures was reported by 65-100% of the Roma respondents.

Kjaerum said: "The figures show that discrimination and racist crime are an everyday experience for the Roma. Politicians and other public figures need to speak out and lead by example on human rights protection. Awareness-raising to prevent discrimination is necessary, as well as rigorous sanctions against those who discriminate against the Roma. The Roma also stand out from the groups surveyed in relation to having the highest unemployment rates and lowest education levels. The social exclusion of the Roma must be urgently addressed".

Mass in support of Migrant Workers in London

In Japan as in Spain: failure of voluntary reentry scheme