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UNITED Berlin Conference Report – Day 2

The second day of the conference focused on identifying the needs of victims of bias-motivated violence and what support organisations can offer them, and better understanding the perspective of victims.

NEEDS AMONG DIFFERENT VICTIM GROUPS

The first panel session of Day 2 discussed needs of individuals and communities affected by Hate Violence.

IMG_3546Magdalena Swider from Campaign against Homophobia explained how KPH conducts research, train police officers, prosecutors and judges in victim support service, advocating for introducing Hate crime in legislation. She pointed out that according to their research, 29,3% of LGBTQ suffer from violence, however, less than 4% report their cases to the police. She emphasized the needs of victims, especially the need for security, the need for support, the need for information the need for respect, the need for confidentiality, need for justice and the need for belonging.

Eben Louw from Psychological Counselling for victims of Rightwing, racist and anti-Semitic Violence emphasized the need of an intersectional approach when dealing with victims of hate violence and reflected on the role of society in supporting victims. He reiterated the needs of victims for self-advocacy, for control and for long-term medical service.

Ana Maruntel explained the activities of Romanian National Council for Refugees, and the main target groups of hate violence in Romania, namely LGBTQ, Roma minority and refugees. She highlighted the situation that single women refugees face and pointed out the need for a two-step support for victims of hate crime, the first being intercultural mediation, second step is legal help.IMG_3605

Miro Grifith from the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) explained the SEAwall of discriminiation, pointing out the attitudinal, environmental and structural discriminiation. He pointed out the Article 19 of the United Nations Human rights Charta as a powerful tool when dealing with hate violence against disabled people. Miro listed the following key needs for victims of hate violence: improving structures in terms of provision of continuous support to people experiencing disability hate crime, facilitating dialogue between organisations committed or interested in disability hate crime, third party reporting mechanism and finally he highlighted the significance of personal stories.

Benjamin Steinitz from the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism (RIAS) focused on anti-Semitic hate violence and explained the difficulties Jewish people face in Germany.

SUPPORT WE CAN OFFER TO VICTIMS OF HATE VIOLENCE & THEIR COMMUNITIES – Developing a minimum set of support options

In the course of parallel workshops, facilitators focused on what support can and should be offered to victims of hate violence. It was discussed that many times victims are not even aware that hate violence was committed against them and there is a lack of understanding from the part of society and public institutions as well. Solutions to provide better support include: training and sensitization of judges/police officers etc, providing access to support services, raising awareness of existing support services, support services to proactively reach out to victims (via hospitals and police) to overcome the mistrust against institutions, raising awareness in the media, cooperation of NGOs with media (e.g. NGOs to initiate cases to be reported in media, counselling on media coverage in terms of confidentiality etc, creating commercials on hate violence), establishing shelters, providing psychological and legal support specialised in hate crimes, setting up peer support  groups of hate crime victims.

The next workshop tried to answer to some key questions about how to contact and connect with hate crime victims and what kind of relationship to develop with them. Aspects of working with victims, providing legal defence, challenges at institutional, political and societal levels were discussed.

DANGER OF SECONDARY VICTIMISATION

IMG_3701In the second plenary session of the day, Kusminder Chahal from Centre for Trust, Peace & Social Relations (UK), explained the phenomenon of secondary victimization, which refers to the re-victimization of hate crime victims during their interactions with criminal justice professionals, medical services, psychological staff, and victim support services. Helping services and advocates are trying to help victims but they can unintentionally re-victimize the victim. Besides presenting the situation victims face in the UK, Kusminder identified certain ways to reduce secondary victimisation.

Next, Irena Petzoldova from Psychological centre for Refugees in the state of Brandenburg shared her experience reaching back decades as a psychologist and provided many insights on how to deal with traumatized victims.

IN-DEPTH LOOK INTO THE VICTIM PERSPECTIVE

The series of parallel workshops in the afternoon focused on an in-depth look into the victim perspectives . Mental health and psychological consequences of everyday racism were conversed about. It was discussed that for people racially assaulted, it’s not only the physical violence that hurts, it’s the whole discriminative context and disadvantage in their lives.

DSC04219Protection to privacy and child’s rights were highlighted during the discussion on the EU Directive on Victim Support. The participants appreciated that additional provisions are laid down in the provision on the specialised training of practitioners who work with victims. The following articles can be useful for NGOs that deal with victim support: Article 22 on individual assessment can open a window to include among others homophobia as a motive, Article 8 includes the obligation of member states to facilitate the referral of victims to victim support services, and Article 25 lays down provisions on funding.

The session on the problem of underrecording was a small and intimate discussion between participants on the uses of monitoring hate crimes and the various aspects of monitoring that one should always keep in mind for the systematic gathering of information. Participants were shown the importance of having clear aims and categories. The goal of the monitoring should be clearly defined. In addition, it is important at the outset to come up with a clear and (somewhat) shared definition of hate crime. This is particular important if one intends to share the results with other bodies such as law enforcement, other NGOs, and policy makers.

POLITICAL CAFÉ

The evening finished with the usual Political Cafés, where participants could organise workshops and discussions on relevant topics for the network and in today’s Europe. After watching a documentary about the antifascist movement in Sweden, participants had discussions in parallel worskhops about the antifascist movement in Sweden, the No Hate Speech campaign, hate crimes committed against women, the situation in Catalonia, how to work with perpetrators of hate crime, islamophobia in France, as well as a preparatory workshop was held on UNITED Delegations.