Combating xenophobia and racism
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) strives to strengthen the prosecution of hate crimes, to increase protection of victims of such crimes and to raise public awareness about and tolerance for ethnic and minority populations. In Ukraine, ABA ROLI works to build the capacity of government and legal actors to respond to xenophobia and racism, and to increase the exposure of the general public to educational and awareness programs on tolerance, diversity and non-discrimination, with a particular focus on youth.
ABA ROLI’s approach to combat xenophobia, racism and hate crime has four components. First, we cooperate with the Ministry of Interior, the General Prosecutor’s Office and their training and research institutions to support the development of standardized investigative guidelines that are in par with international standards. The guidelines will be used as the basis for specialized training modules and materials, which will in turn be used to train trainers.
Second, we are strengthening the capacity of key government actors to monitor and report on racism and xenophobia. We assist an inter-ministerial working group in evaluating the current system for reporting and documenting hate crime. We also help research and analyze comparable international models. Additionally, ABA ROLI is working to establish an advisory council—comprising members of civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious and ethnic minorities, and governmental bodies—to advise government agencies on policy issues and to address race-based crimes in partnership with the courts and law enforcement agencies.
Third, we are improving the capacity of lawyers to represent hate-crime victims. We are creating substantive law training programs and resource materials on relevant legislation and criminal code provisions, including materials on the preparation of cases for review by the European Court of Human Rights. ABA ROLI is also assisting with the development of national and regional coalitions of advocacy NGOs and legal clinics to assist victims and to advocate against discrimination and xenophobia.
Fourth, ABA ROLI is undertaking public awareness activities to foster cross-cultural exchange and to promote tolerance, diversity and non-discrimination, especially among the youth. We provide financial support to student discussion groups, ethnic campus organizations and campaigns on inter-cultural issues to improve the communication with, and understanding of, ethnic and minority students. Student group subgrantees are required to maintain blogs and encouraged to follow each other’s blogs. ABA ROLI will assist with the development of a page on one of the regionally popular social networking websites (such as Facebook.com, Vkontakte.ru, Strelka.com.ua and Friends.ua) to serve as a platform for information on student group projects on issues of hate crime, tolerance and xenophobia. The page will provide guidelines for organizing diversity activities in schools and host related publications. To promote sustainability of the projects, ABA ROLI will develop a mechanism for a permanent liaison or committee comprising representatives of local law enforcement agencies, student associations, and ethnic and minority groups.
In partnership with the International Organization for Migration, ABA ROLI will also develop and implement a high-profile public awareness campaign, incorporating images of key Ukrainian sports and cultural icons to be displayed on billboards in five cities. These will be supplemented by public service announcements on diversity and hate crime. Furthermore, ABA ROLI will support a student-created play based on several real-life stories of ethnic minorities. The play—which will be available in Ukrainian, Russian and English—will be broadcast on regional and national TV channels. It will also be performed at universities, schools, city councils and embassies, and made available on the Diversity Initiative website. Finally, we are developing a YouTube video essay competition on discrimination and intolerance to encourage technology savvy youth to reflect on diversity in their own communities.