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ICCPR Shadow Report on the U.S. and Hate Crimes

SUMMARY

This Shadow Report is an initial submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and is not covered in the list of issues or NGO list of issues reports. The violations detailed in this Report have not been thoroughly briefed before the Human Rights Committee, and thus, the U.S. government has not provided a detailed assessment on this matter in its Fourth Periodic Report. Therefore, the submission tries to be comprehensive in laying out the context and evidence for why the U.S. federal government has failed to protect minority communities from hate crimes through a combination of inadequate data collection, limited training of law enforcement to investigate and document hate crimes, and the failure to devote resources at the Executive level to monitor domestic extremists with supremacist ideologies.

Under the current Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), only 3% percent of all hate crimes are documented through the UCR Program. Out of 14,575 participating law enforcement agencies in the UCR program, 86.7% of these agencies reported zero hate crimes in their jurisdiction, including 64 jurisdictions with a population over 100,000. The jurisdictions that reported zero hate crimes represent almost one third of the U.S. population.

In 2011, the UCR reported 7,713 victims of hate crimes, whereas, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported on average 259,700 hate crimes a year from 2007-2011. The 35 fold gap in documenting hate crimes reveals systemic flaws that result in the government failing to devote adequate resources: to train police officers in properly identifying bias indicators in crime, to monitor domestic hate groups rather than disproportionately focusing on Islamic extremism, and to protect particularly vulnerable communities from hate crimes.

According to NCVS, 65% of all hate crime victimizations are never reported to the police. Many of the reasons stem from mistrust of law enforcement to: investigate their claim thoroughly, prosecute the case as a hate crime, prevent retaliation, and not use their position to deport victims who lack status. Moreover, there is no federal mandate to ensure recording of hate crimes by local law enforcement jurisdictions, reporting is voluntary. The combination of voluntary reporting with a failure to adequately train police officers to identify bias indicators in crime, there is little chance that the scope of violence directed at vulnerable communities is understood. Ultimately, the culture of a police department can be strong determinant on whether hate crimes documentation is seen by police officers as necessary to protect vulnerable communities or functions to support the “agendas of gay and minority groups.”

Although mandating documentation of hate crimes is a priority at the local level, there are other factors that can help bridge the gap. Revitalization of Hate Crimes Task Forces that engage with civil society and communities in partnership can function as a strong bulwark against bias-motivated crime. Additionally, implementing hate crimes investigating and reporting procedures into Patrol Guides (police officer manual) would enhance hate crimes documentation.

Unfortunately, the failure to properly document hate crimes is compounded by the federal government’s limited monitoring of domestic hate groups. On August 5, 2012, one of the largest hate crimes in U.S. history occurred with the killing of six worshipers at Oak Creek Sikh Gurdwara. This massacre highlighted the government’s failure to monitor domestic extremist groups who hold supremacist ideologies. During a Senate hearing on hate crimes, former senior analyst for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Daryl Johnson, testified that that “domestic rightwing extremists trumped all other forms of ideologically motivated violence in the U.S. for number of deaths” since September 11, 2001. Furthermore, DHS reduced the number of analysts who monitor domestic extremism (non-Islamic) from eight analysts to one in 2009. Disproportionate resources have been used on surveillance and monitoring of Islamic extremism, leaving the U.S. with a blind spot for domestic hate groups that have swelled to its highest levels.

Although the U.S. government has taken some affirmative steps to address hate crimes since the last Periodic Report in 2006, it doesn’t address the failure of proper data collection, training of law enforcement, and monitoring of domestic hate groups, each of which have severe downstream effects. For example, relevant law enforcement agencies don’t have enough information to identify crime patterns and make sound decisions about how to allocate limited resources to prevent, prosecute, and protect communities from bias-motivated acts. Ultimately, we are all left more vulnerable when we are veiled off from the true scope of the bias-motivated violence in the U.S.

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