New York, NY, April 21, 2011 … Suggesting that the United States model for countering hate crime can be adapted for other countries, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) offered recommendations on how Turkey could more effectively combat the problem of bias-motivated violence.
During the International Conference Against Hate Crimes, held April 15-17 in Istanbul and sponsored by the Turkish NGO Association For Social Change, ADL presented recommendations on responding to the problem of hate violence in Turkey. Turkey does not presently have a law against hate crimes.
"Hate crimes do not recognize international borders – they happen in countries all over the world and at every level of society," said Robert O. Trestan, ADL Eastern States Civil Rights Counsel, who represented the League at the conference. "While laws against hate crimes will differ from country to country, the American experience does provide practical insight into some effective strategies that Turkey can adopt."
ADL outlined a series of recommendations on how Turkey can improve its response to hate crimes, including:
· Enact a Law to Address and Recognize Hate Violence
A law that provides an enhanced penalty for acts motivated by bias sends a message to the community that act of hatred will not be tolerated. The law must protect people and property that share a particular group characteristic, and it must afford everyone the same level of protection.
· Acknowledge and Identify the Problem
Government officials, community leaders and law enforcement will not be in a position to confront hate crimes effectively until the scope of the problem is known. This requires a collaborative effort to conduct data collection and document what is happening in communities.
· Provide Law Enforcement with Training and Resources
Police officers must be trained to identify, report and respond to acts of hate-motivated violence. A commitment to training demonstrates a resolve to treat these inflammatory crimes seriously and as a priority.
· Establish Coalition Communication Networks
Hate violence and terror attacks around the world demonstrate the growing need for innovative and nimble collaborations between governments, NGOs and community-based organizations to leverage each institution's experience, networks and on-the-ground resources.
· Encourage and Maintain the Expectation of Leadership
Along with the commitment to fight hate crimes comes the responsibility to speak out against them and encourage others to do the same, especially government officials and leaders within civil society.
"Hate crime laws in the United States were enacted because people, like everyone attending this conference, drew attention to the problem, tirelessly urged leaders to speak out and pursued solutions," Mr. Trestan added. "Even with laws in place, ADL and others understand the need to keep raising public awareness of the issue. Just as hate violence transcends borders, so do the people and organizations working on the solutions."
Attendees at the conference included community leaders, non-governmental organizations and members of the public.
In Europe, ADL works closely with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to encourage the enactment and implementation of hate crimes laws by all OSCE member states. In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes based on or similar to a law drafted by ADL to serve as the model.