Experts on hate crime from around the world gathered this week at the University of Limerick this week for the Biennial Conference of the International Network for Hate Studies. Exploring its theme, “The Politics of Hate: Community Societal and Global Responses”, were practitioners including police officers, academics, and members of civil society organisations. Jennifer Schweppe of the School of Law is a co-Director of the Network.
The conference explored the prevalence and impact of hate crime as well as understanding how to address it at a national and global level. Unlike most European countries, and in contravention of the EU Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, Ireland has no legislation specifically designed to address hate crime, and the conference explored this lacuna as well as discuss ways in which it can be addressed.
Hosted by the Hate and Hostility Research Group, the only centre in Ireland dedicated to the exploration and understanding of hate crime, the conference hosted delegates from all over Europe, North America and Africa.
Plenary papers were delivered by
Dr Stephanos Stavros, Advisor to the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe;
Salome Mbugua, Honorary President and Founder of AkiDwA;
Professor Gail Mason, Sydney Law School
Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin;
Stephen O’Hare, Irish Council for Civil Liberties;
Amanda Haynes and Jennifer Schweppe, Hate and Hostility Research Group;
Dr Lucy Smith, Health Service Executive;
Professor Paul Iganski, Lancaster University;
Dr Nathan Hall, Portsmouth University.
At the conference, Dr Mark Walters, co-Director of the Network said: “Combating hate requires local, national and international responses that address both its causes and consequences. The INHS conference hosted by Limerick University is bringing together academics, practitioners and policy makers from across the world to share best practices and research on how to tackle hate crime internationally. The conference provides an opportunity for Ireland to be at the forefront of tackling this global phenomenon.”
Professor Barbara Perry, Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the Network and the leading international expert on hate crime stated: “The University of Limerick was an easy choice when we were planning this second INHS conference. It has a very active cadre of first rate scholars working in the field, as well as hosting the Hate and Hostility Research Group. The country is potentially on the brink of finally introducing explicit hate crime legislation, thereby bringing it in line with other European nations. Hosting the conference here highlights the important work that has been done by scholars, policy-makers and the not-for-profit sector in bringing this to fruition.”
Jennifer Schweppe, co-Director of the Network and co-Director of the Hate and Hostility Research Group at the University of Limerick said: “Media reports of hate crimes are increasingly and depressingly becoming more frequent: the numbers of hate crimes being reported to civil society organisations such as ENAR Ireland, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and Transgender Equality Network Ireland show us that those media reports only scratch the surface of the true prevalence of hate crime in Ireland. There is no legislation in Ireland which specifically addresses hate crime which means we are not compliant with the EU Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, nor the EU Victims’ Directive. It’s simply unacceptable.”
Dr Amanda Haynes, co-Director of the Hate and Hostility Research Group at the University of Limerick said: “We know that hate crime has devastating impacts on its victims. There are considerable mental health impacts associated with hate crime victimisation; victims are forced to self-segregate and assimilate; limit their participation in everyday life; and are sometimes forced out of their home. This conference provides us an opportunity to discuss how to address hate crime in the future to ensure that the right to live a life free from fear is protected across the entirety of Irish society, no matter what your ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or whether you have a disability.”