WASHINGTON—The countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) need to improve their reporting of hate crimes and other acts of discrimination within their borders, the leaders of the U.S. Helsinki Commission said today at a hearing on tolerance.
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) chaired the hearing, “Promoting Tolerance and Understanding in the OSCE Region,” the first hearing of its kind to bring together the three OSCE Personal Representatives who separately monitor discrimination against Muslims, Jews, and Christians and other religions.
“We have witnessed a resurgence of various forms of intolerance and discrimination in the OSCE countries, included in our own, and it is up to all of us to stand up against it,” said Chairman Cardin, referring to a 54-percent increase in hate groups in the U.S. since 2004. “There is renewed urgency to the work of the personal representatives as we face a global economic downturn that wrongheaded hate groups have already used and will continue to use to scapegoat individuals based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or immigrant status. “
“There is almost a denial that these problems persist in the OSCE countries,” said Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). “We are making some progress, but in comparison to the problem, the progress is too slow. Too many acts of hatred still fill our headlines, which is why we need the OSCE personal representatives to work more cooperatively to shine a light on the xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of discrimination that continue to feed off one another.”
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.