New Zealand wants data on hate crimes
New Zealand’ s Human Rights Commission has confirmed that there is no need for new hate crime laws but there is a need to collect data when hate crimes take place.
“We are not advocating for any new laws. What we have been working with NZ Police on for some time is a plan that would see officers collect statistics on whether a crime is motivated by race, gender identity, age, religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“For example when the graves of Jewish New Zealanders have been desecrated; we have no official way of recording that this is crime motivated by hate. When a man is brutally attacked because he’s gay: we need a way to record that he was attacked because of who he is.”
“We want officers to be able to collect that data because at the moment it is all anecdotal.”
“With respect to people who have said hate crime are not a problem in New Zealand: people in minority communities tell us it is. Right now we have no evidence to point to either way because we do not collect the data and that needs to change.”
New Zealand Jewish Council President Stephen Goodman said: “We welcome the Human Rights Commission proposal to collect better information when hate crimes take place.
Recording hate crimes as such, and identifying the perpetrators as well as the victims, will help identify patterns. The information should be used for protecting victims as well as targeting aggressors.”
Mr Goodman called on the Human Rights Commission to consult fully with minority communities – whether based on ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation – who are the main targets of hate crimes.
“Unfortunately, Jewish communities around the world have experience with recording hate crimes, and we offer to share this experience with the Human Rights Commission and Police. In the UK, for example, the Jewish Community Security Trust (CST) helped to establish the anti-Muslim hate crime support service, Tell MAMA,” he explained.
“It is good to hear the Race Relations Commissioner say that there is no need for new hate crime laws,” Stephen Goodman added. “Freedom of speech is much too important to restrict, unless there is also a threat of violence involved.”