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Too few reports made of hate crimes against Roma

Published fredag 29 januari 2016 kl 11.26
Heidi Pikkarainen of the Commission against Antiziganism.
(2:43 min)
Police need to do more to help fight anti-Roma crimes. Photo: TT.
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Police need to do more to help fight anti-Roma crimes. Photo: TT.
Heidi Pikkarainen, principal secretary for the government-appointed Commission against Antiziganism. Photo: Johanna Dickson / Swedish Radio.
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Heidi Pikkarainen, principal secretary for the government-appointed Commission against Antiziganism. Photo: Johanna Dickson / Swedish Radio.

The Commission against Antiziganism is calling for the police to pay closer attention to hate crimes against the Roma. Abuses against the group like fires set to camps, kicking and spitting, and shouts of racial slurs often go unreported and rarely lead to prosecutions.

In newspaper Dagens Nyheter's Friday opinion section the organization, which is appointed by the government to combat mistreatment of the Roma, claims that few hate crimes are reported to police and only around 3 percent of reports result in criminal charges.

"Arson at camps. Kicking and spitting. Children who don't dare to play in the yard because the neighbor yells 'f***ing gypsy kids' at them. These occurrences are a part of many Roma's daily life in Sweden," write the authors.

They say that in 15 percent of the reported cases children are targeted and that many Roma children and adults report being afraid of violence or other abuse directed at them. In 2014 there were 290 reported cases of hate crimes with an anti-roma motive defined by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention as "crimes committed because of fear for, hostility towards, or hate against" the Roma.

But "despite the number of reports of antiziganist crimes increasing, it's obvious that the number of unreported abuses is large," write the authors.

An unwillingness to report is rooted in the Roma's distrust of the police, say the authors who mention the illegal register of Roma people that was kept by the Skåne Police and revealed by Dagens Nyheter in 2013.

They go on to say that the unlikelihood that a police report will result in charges being brought adds to the unwillingness to report. According to them only 1 percent of reported unlawful threats and molestation with antiziganist motives led to charges during 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile reports of unlawful threats for that time generally led to charges in 12 percent of the cases.

The authors propose that police set concrete goals for the prosecution of hate crimes against the Roma. They say the police should even hire people with knowledge of Roma languages and culture to help foster a better relationship with the group.

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