EU agency: Under-reporting continues to hinder fight against antisemitism

Report says anti-Jewish hate crime remains a serious concern.

December 14, 2016 22:46
2 minute read.

A man carries a EU flag, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Large gaps in data collection on antisemitism by EU member states continue to hinder the fight against anti-Jewish hate crime, an EU agency says.

Antisemitism remains a serious concern and demands decisive and targeted policy responses, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said on Tuesday with the release of its annual report, titled “Antisemitism: Summary overview of data available in the European Union 2005-2015.”

“Greater efforts need to be made to counter underreporting,” the FRA stated.

“Not only do victims and witnesses need to be encouraged to report antisemitic incidents, but the authorities need to have systems in place that would record such incidents.”

While acknowledging that steps in the right direction are being made, the agency said continued and sustained efforts are required at the national, European and international levels, as well as in civil society, to improve data collection on all hate crime.

Despite the serious consequences of antisemitism, particularly for Jewish populations, a consistent and uniform method of recording antisemitism across EU member states is still sorely lacking, making it difficult to collect adequate official data, the agency said. “The inadequate recording of hate-crime incidents, including those of an antisemitic nature, coupled with victims’ hesitance to report incidents to the authorities, contributes to the gross under-reporting of the extent, nature and characteristics of the antisemitic incidents that occur in the EU,” it said.

The report is a compilation of available data on antisemitic incidents collected by international, governmental and nongovernmental sources, from January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2015. No official data on the issue for 2015, however, was available from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia.

The FRA noted that in many member states the number of officially recorded incidents is so low that it is difficult to assess long-term trends. The agency stresses, however, that low numbers do not necessarily mean that antisemitism is less of a concern in those countries, as it could be a reflection of their data collection systems.

Similarly, countries where the highest numbers of incidents are recorded – such as Germany, France and the UK – do not necessarily suffer from higher levels of antisemitism. The size of the Jewish population in any given country plays a role here, in addition to levels of reporting and of efficient police recording of incidents.

Citing the British Association of Chief Police Officers, the FRA said: “The police service is committed to reducing the under-reporting of hate crime and would view increases in this data as a positive indicator, so long as it reflects an increase in reporting and not an increase in the actual incidence of crime which we strive to reduce.”

The report is the latest in a series of 12 annual reports on data collection on antisemitism published by FRA and its predecessor, the EU Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).

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