To assist the discussion about hate crime in New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission has today published a summary of media reports of racially and religiously motivated crime between 2004 and 2012.
Around 100 incidents are included in the summary, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says.
“These include murder and kidnapping, serious assault, threatening and disorderly behaviour, abuse, deliberate damage to property and desecration of sacred sites,” Mr Hunt says.
The incidents recorded were reported in the media.
“It is reasonable to assume that these reported incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, particularly in relation to abusive and threatening behaviour, since these are an extremely common complaint made by ethnic and religious communities,” Mr Hunt says.
Police do not collect racially and religiously motivated crime data, despite calls from the Commission since 2004, and recommendations from various parts of the United Nations in 2007, 2009 and 2017.
The absence of systematically collected data on racially and religiously motivated crime in New Zealand makes it difficult to have an informed discussion about the prevalence of such crimes, Mr Hunt says.
As it has done for many years, the Commission continues to argue that the authorities should gather this information on a systematic basis. This data should include the number of complaints, prosecutions and convictions for race, religious and other forms of hate crime.
This will enable Government to monitor the extent of the problem and develop effective evidence-based measures to reduce hate crime in New Zealand. It may also give people and communities more confidence to speak out.
“The Commission hopes that publishing the compilation will inform discussion by providing specific examples of the kinds of criminal behaviour faced by many New Zealanders because of their race or religion,” Mr Hunt says.
Between 2004-2012, the Human Rights Commission brought together media reports of racially and religiously motivated crime as part of its annual Race Relations Reports.
“Although publication of these annual media reports ceased in 2013, influenced by the Commission’s chronic lack of resources caused by the Government’s long-term cap on funding, the nine years of information provides a snapshot of the kinds of crimes that have been committed in recent years,” Mr Hunt says.