FEATURES » Increase in race hate crimes?

Increase in race hate crimes?

According to unofficial data collected by rank-and-file groups in Italy the country is facing a rise in racial hate crimes.

From June to August there have been 33 alleged cases of racially targeted hate crimes in the country that made headlines in the last two months, but it is suspected that more incidents have occurred but have gone unreported.

In Italy there isn’t an official database on hate crimes nor an independent monitoring body. The Italian NGO Lunaria and its watchdog unit, Cronache di Ordinario Razzismo, reported a total of 557 violent, racially-motivated incidents in 2017. From January to March 2018, that figure was 169.

One of the most debated cases of alleged race-related crimes was that of athlete Daisy Osakue, who was egged in the face near Turin whilst walking down the street. The attack left her with an injured cornea.

However, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) pointed out that the sharp increase in the numbers reported is based on improvements on the recording of hate crimes by the authorities in Italy. As such, it does not necessarily mean that there has been an increase in the number of crimes, but rather in the way they are addressed and reported.

Many think the new government’s anti-immigrant crackdown policy is to blame.  However, competition and hostility between "nationals" and "non-nationals" has much deeper roots. In Italy, the children of migrant parents are denied citizenship despite being born in the country, speaking fluent Italian and living there all their lives. The proposal to give them automatic citizenship was repeatedly blocked in parliament. 

Things have become worse since co-deputy prime minister, Salvini, denied docking rights at Italian ports to ships carrying refugees and migrants and called for a census in order to deport any Roma without citizenship. Salvini also defined the claims of a racism problem in Italy as an invention of the left and explained that Italians were tired of the situation.

Italy's other Deputy Prime Minister, the Five Star Movement's, Luigi di Maio, said in recent interviews that there was no such thing as a racism emergency.

Grazia Naletto, head of the anti-racist watchdog Cronache di Ordinario Razzismo (Chronicles of Ordinary Racism), part of the NGO Lunaria, said it was difficult to keep track of racially-motivated violence. She also pointed out that the media reports only a part of the incidents, including verbal violence. What’s more, often victims don't come forward. Therefore, when these episodes appear in the local media, they are reported as cases of ordinary violence, without mentioning the racist motive.

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: FEATURES