“Hate Crimes Motivated by Bias against Religion, Belief or Non-Belief in Turkey 2021” report aims to contribute to the prevention of hate crimes and impunity for perpetrators of hate crimes.
In the English language summary report, the data obtained from the monitoring work on hate crimes motivated by bias against religion, belief or non-belief in Turkey in 2021 are analysed based on international human rights standards. The summary report is a succinct version of the “Hate Crimes Motivated by Bias against Religion, Belief or Non-Belief in Turkey 2021” report published in Turkish on September 2022.
29 hate crimes or incidents motivated by bias against religion, belief or non-belief were documented for 2021.
The breakdown of hate crimes per target group in 2021 is as follows:
- Alevis – 12
- Christians – 10
- Jews – 5
- Atheists – 2
Considering that hate crimes are generally under-reported, it is likely that these numbers only present a general picture and in no way reflect the true extent of hate crime in Turkey. The main barriers to the reporting of hate crimes/incidents are as follows:
- victims are so accustomed to hate incidents that they have a high threshold for reporting such acts;
- individuals prefer not to report due to fear of exclusion or ostracization;
- victims have concerns that their allegations will not be taken seriously or will lead to greater victimisation, including that of local police officers.
According to the accessible data, none of the hate crimes that took place in 2021, all meriting special sensitivity, were subject to an effective legal process inclusive of the hate crime dimension. The recorded hate crimes/incidents include various crimes, such as damage to property, threats, violent attacks against persons, damage to places of worship or cemeteries, harassment, and insults. One of the surfacing trends, upon evaluating reported incidents, is the repeated nature by which locations venues related to religious or belief communities are targeted.
Hate crime legislation is far from adequate
The Human Rights Action Plan dated April 2021 has set these targets to be achieved in one year:
- to draft a new regulation in the Turkish Penal Code regarding discrimination and hate crime (Activity 4.4.e.), and
- establishing a database on discrimination, hate crimes and misdemeanours; and ensuring the reliable collection of statistics (Activity 4.4.h.)
However, these targets have not been met and hate crime legislation in Turkey is still far from adequate. Therefore, authorities must act immediately to develop a comprehensive legislation and combat impunity.
A holistic approach is needed
The report emphasizes the need for an integrated strategy to combat hate crimes and the need for a sensitive approach to these crimes: “Hate crimes, in which victims are targeted because of their identities, should be handled differently from other types of crimes. Deep collective memory and the long-term effects of trauma should also be taken into consideration.”
The building blocks set forth to combat hate crimes in the report:
- the monitoring and reporting of hate crimes motivated by bias against religion, belief or non-belief,
- the effective investigation of these crimes,
- compensation for harm,
- support for victims,
- multi-stakeholder activities.
The report also presents concrete recommendations for public authorities, civil society and religious or belief communities. Some of these recommendations to the public authorities are:
- to prevent and combat hate crimes including those motivated by bias against religion and belief new legislation on hate crime must be adopted,
- disaggregated registration of hate crimes, effective investigation and the prosecution and enforcement of appropriate sanctions must be ensured,
- multidimensional measures must be taken to meet the needs of the victims,
- the ongoing mutual exchange of information and cooperation between law enforcement officers, civil society and religious or belief communities must be strengthened.
What is a hate crime?
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) uses the following definition for hate crime:
“Any criminal offence, including offences against persons or property, where the victim, premises, or target of the offence are selected because of their real or perceived connection, attachment, affiliation, support, or membership of a group. A group may be based upon a characteristic common to its members, such as real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other similar factor.”
 Please click here to access the summart report “Hate Crimes Motivated by Bias Based on Religion and Belief in Turkey 2020” published in 2021.