Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia

Click here to access ODIHR’s ‘Tandis’ database, where you can find comprehensive material regarding hate crime.

The European Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2008/913/JHA) was prepared by the Council based on a proposal from the European Commission and an opinion expressed by the Parliament.

The primary goal of the framework decision is to counter racism and xenophobia in all member states with effective, appropriate and preventative penalties.

European Commission recommendation for the framework decision:

The draft of the framework decision is based on the analysis that ‘Racism and xenophobia are a direct violation of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States’.

After lengthy negotiations, the Council of the European Union passed the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2008/913/JHA) on 28 November 2008It stipulates that the member states must synchronise their legal and administrative regulations on crimes with a racist or xenophobic background. It demands that racist or xenophobic acts be considered criminal offences in all member states, punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years.

It calls for the criminalisation of incitement to violence or hatred on the basis of attribution to an ethnic or religious group; the public dissemination or distribution of writings, images or other materials with racist or xenophobic content; and the public endorsement, denial or gross down-playing of genocide or crimes against humanity, if committed in a way likely to incite violence or hatred towards such a group or individual. Inciting or participating in such an act is also to be considered an offence.

When fixing penalties for a conventional offence, racist or xenophobic motives are to be classified as an aggravating factor, and they are to be taken into account during sentencing.

The initiation of police investigations and criminal prosecution of racist and xenophobic offences cannot be dependent on the victim’s willingness to press charges or take legal action.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011