Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Hate crimes are one of the most flagrant breaches of this declaration because they strip the victims of their dignity as human beings and violate their basic right to physical and moral integrity, as guaranteed in Article 15 of the Spanish Constitution.
The basic motivations underlying hate crimes are intolerance, prejudice and rejection of specific human groups considered to be different on account of their origins, gender, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, poverty or any other discriminating factor. Hate crimes can be differentiated from other crimes in that they are so symbolically charged that in addition to their direct impact on the immediate target, the harm they cause affects the victims’ entire group in addition to their community and social network, which is extremely fragile in the case of homeless people.
There are no solid statistics in Spain mirroring the incidence of hate crimes against the homeless, but RAIS Fundación’s experience in its struggle against discrimination and social exclusion indicates that these crimes represent an invisibilized phenomenon and violation of basic rights. It is therefore a matter of urgency to create suitable mechanisms to prevent, detect and tackle hate crimes targeting the homeless, and establish means of protecting them that take into account the specific attributes of population groups in situations of extreme social exclusion.
RAIS Fundación is firmly committed to upholding and guaranteeing the rights of homeless people, to which end it is coordinating the project ‘Cross-sector network for observing and analysing hate crimes against the homeless’, designed to identify and analyse hate crimes and situations of violence suffered by homeless people in Spain. This cross-sector network is made up of different organizations that work with the homeless, along with social agents who play a key role in this sphere such as members of the State security forces and human rights organizations.
The social bodies in the project and network members are: Asociación Zubietxe, Asociación Bokatas, Asociación RAIS Euskadi, UNIJEPOL, Movimiento contra la intolerancia and Centro de Acogida ASSIS.
* This project is co-funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA Grants) designed to reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen relations between donor states (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and recipient countries (17 EU member states). Spain’s NGO Platform for Social Action is the Programme Operator for the Active Citizenship Programme, to which end €4.6 million has been earmarked to strengthen NGOs and their contribution to social justice and sustainable development.