New Zealand Law Society - Reported hate crime incidents “tip of the iceberg” says Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Reported hate crime incidents “tip of the iceberg” says Chief Human Rights Commissioner

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The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has released a report summarising media reports of incidents of hate crimes over a decade.

The report, titled “It Happened Here” summarises about 100 incidents of racially and religiously motivated crime reported in the media between 2004 and 2012.

“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 complaints made by ethnic and religious communities,” says the Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.

The commission has reiterated its call for authorities such as Police to gather information on hate crimes.

“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.

Incidents in the report include murder and kidnapping, serious assault, threatening and disorderly behaviour, abuse, deliberate damage to property and desecration of sacred sites.

Examples from the report include:

  • In February 2009, two 20-year old men were sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment for throwing pipe bombs and defacing a Manurewa Sikh temple between April and August 2008. They were accused of throwing pipe bombs, engaging in threatening acts and painting obscenities on the temple walls. Judge Blackie described their actions as “racist, abusive and demeaning.”
  • In 2010, a 21-year-old man, was sentenced in the Hastings District Court to two years and three months jail for terrorising a 71-year-old Indian man, knocking off his turban and punching out his false teeth.
  • In late 2012, twenty gravestones in the historic Jewish quarter of a cemetery in central Auckland were vandalised and spray painted with Nazi insignia and slogans.

Between 2004 and 2012, the Commission collated media reports of racially and religiously motivated crime as part of its annual Race Relations Reports, but publication of these annual media reports ceased in 2013, influenced, the Commission says, by its lack resources caused by the Government’s long-term cap on funding.

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