Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias towards certain groups in society. These crimes differ from other crimes because of the motive. Hate crimes can take various forms.

Crimes and less serious offenses are a daily occurrence. However, crimes and other offenses that have a biased motive behind them need to be taken more seriously, because they are more dangerous to society at large.

example A Muslim community centre is attacked with the motive of threatening Muslim people.

If a hate crime is committed, the state not only has a positive obligation to actively investigate the crime with vigour but also an additional duty to take all reasonable steps to unmask any biased motives. It should also ensure that the person or group affected by the crime does not lose trust in the authorities that protect them.

Hate crimes have a big impact on the victim because they target the victim’s identity, the victim feels vulnerable and experiences a greater psychological impact. The community which shares the victim’s characteristic may also be frightened and intimidated.

example If a Muslim community centre is attacked, the Muslim community is more likely to isolate themselves by cancelling community events, closing mosques from the public and taking other measures to protect themselves.

Hate crimes & Human rights

Hate crimes mostly affect groups that are socially vulnerable and can cause further social division between the victim group and society at large. For this reason, hate crimes should not be treated like ordinary crimes. They require specific preventative measures and special skills for recognition, investigation, and assistance.

Failure to enforce the rights of the victim may result in a violation of the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment, the right to a fair trial and the prohibition of discrimination.

About this section

In this section, you can learn about which crimes can be considered to be hate crimes, different kinds of liability, victim status and how to get help.


Last updated 19/04/2024