UN race committee concerns about post-referendum increase in UK hate crimes

On 16 August 2016, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published its concluding observations on the twenty-first to twenty-third periodic reports of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The report states:

The Committee is seriously concerned at the sharp increase in the number of racist hate crimes especially in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the weeks prior to and following the referendum on the membership of the European Union held on 23 June 2016. In particular, the Committee is deeply concerned that the referendum campaign was marked by divisive, anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, and that many politicians and prominent political figures not only failed to condemn it, but also created and entrenched prejudices, thereby emboldening individuals to carry out acts of intimidation and hate towards ethnic or ethno-religious minority communities and people who are visibly different.

The Committee welcomed the Government’s plan for tackling hate crime and the Scottish National Action Plan for Human Rights but was concerned that:

the proposal to replace the Human Rights Act of 1998 with a new British Bill of Rights may lead to decreased levels of human rights protection in the State party…

The report also expresses concerns about:

the reduction of the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) following the adoption of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, as well as the reduction in the resources of the EHRC