Center for Legal Aid - Voice in Bulgaria
Hate crimes and speech not only harm individual integrity and dignity, but create divisions in our communities and poison public discourse in many European countries. Yet, they are significantly underreported and thus rarely addressed. Our idea is to create an Internet portal to report such instances, to popularize the portal among the most frequently affected communities, while putting in place a structure and team to review the reports, follow up and help the potential victims access justice.
Platform - online. Work on the ground: Bulgaria for 1st year, later: also Hungary, Poland, Croatia.
European societies are increasingly diverse. At the same time, according to the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), every 4th European experienced hate-motivated harassment because of their ethnic or immigrant background in 2016, and 90% of such incidents remained unreported.
Internet portal ready and partnerships established in affected communities in Bulgaria in 1st year; working mechanism for facilitating reporting and addressing the incidents in place. Securing funding and expanding to other countries after 1st year.
There are several sites for reporting hate crime or speech, but none for Bulgaria. Our project is furthermore different because it:
- Goes beyond mere reporting through follow-up and mediation with authorities (police, Ombudsman, anti-discrimination bodies)
-Initiates unusual partnerships among affected community groups (e.g., Roma, immigrant, people with disabilities) who may not meet otherwise
- Applies the model in other EU countries with similar issues, collects comparable data
The CLA specializes in providing free legal aid to refugees and migrants. We have witnessed many cases of our clients being subjected to hate-motivated harassment; yet, they are too scared or otherwise unable or unwilling to report them. A climate of hate normalization and impunity is created.
- groups most commonly targeted by hate crimes and speech in Europe
- representatives of the authorities, the legal profession and NGOs
- community organizations and their members/constituencies
- general public – EU citizens, especially in countries with high rates of hate crime and speech
Do we need to narrow down, or, conversely, expand our focus and aims? What do you think of our plan to replicate the model elsewhere after the first year? And which countries (other than Bulgaria) would you suggest, and why? What would be some sources of longer-term financing, beyond the seed funds?