August 26, 2016 10:06:20 pm
British politicians “divisive” and “anti-immigrant” rhetoric in the run-up to the EU referendum helped fuel a surge in hate crimes after the Brexit vote in June, a United Nations panel said today. The UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in a report that it was “seriously concerned” at the sharp increase recorded since Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union (EU), the BBC reported.
“The committee remains concerned that despite the recent increase in the reporting of hate crimes, the problem of underreporting persists, and the gap between reported cases and successful prosecution remains significant. “As a result, a large number of racist hate crimes seem to go unpunished,” the report said. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, hate crimes surged by 42 per cent in England and Wales, with a total of 3,076 incidents were recorded across the country between 16 and 30 June, according to official UK police figures.
Racist abuse peaked on 25 June – the day after the result was announced – when 289 hate crimes and incidents were reported across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The report’s authors also expressed concerned about “negative portrayal” of ethnic minority communities, immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in British media. It said the EU referendum campaign had been marked by “divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric”.
It asked the UK government to review the counter-terrorism measure to ensure it does not “constitute profiling and discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin”. The report also criticised plans to replace the Human Rights Act of 1998 with a new British Bill of Rights, warning that it could lead to “decreased levels of human rights protection”.
David Isaac, chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the organisation shared the UN’s concerns and supported its call for “effective investigation and prosecution of all acts of racist hate crime”. “There are concerns that the acrimonious and divisive manner in which the referendum debate was conducted exacerbated worrying divisions in British society, and has been used by a minority to legitimise race hate,” he said. “Political parties need to come together and show leadership, working with the relevant crime prevention agencies,” Isaac added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.