Most acts of hate go unreported in Quebec and cause victims significant pain: Human Rights Commission
The vast majority of hateful and particularly Islamophobic acts in Quebec go unreported despite their seriousness and cause victims extreme distress, says a new study released Tuesday morning by the province’s Human Rights Commission.
One-third of the 86 respondents altered day-to-day activities as a result of the racist incidents which included violence, comments or threats in several regions of Quebec. The individuals reported feeling excluded, depressed, fearful, anxious and humiliated after they were targeted.
Some said they began staying home more after the experience and avoided visiting specific locations or going out alone. The acts of hate were often accompanied by other kinds of discrimination, for example, housing and employment.
The study focused on hate incidents based on race, colour, ethnic, national, and religious grounds demonstrating “these acts are a serious form of discrimination that undermine the real equality and a sense of well-being in society,” says the president of the commission, Philippe-André Tessier.
“Moreover the rise of the extreme right and the expression of hate speech here and abroad, especially online, encourage us to play a leading role in prevention and awareness,” says the vice-president responsible for the mandate of the commission's charter, Myrlande Pierre.
The commission conducted a total of 140 interviews that included: people who self-described as targets, various organizations as well as with police services across Quebec from 2007 to 2017.
Tessier says the study results show “many hateful acts committed in Quebec remain invisible” because people weren’t sure how to report the hate incident, minimized it, didn’t trust authorities, or feared they'd be prejudged or racially profiled by police.
News coverage and negative media portrayals of certain groups can fuel acts of hate, the study also concluded, and racialized people, immigrants and Muslims are particularly targeted.
"We encourage people who are witnesses or victims of hate crimes to keep on denouncing it, Quebec's Public Security Minister said Tuesday afternoon, adding she knows "that police forces around the province take that very seriously".
The study falls under the mandate of the 2015-2018 Government Action Plan: Radicalization in Quebec: Act, Prevent, Detect and Live Together.
Recommendations to government:
- acknowledge seriousness of acts of hate with government policy
- prioritize prevention
- establish a working group to fight acts of hate and online hate speech
- support further research
- implement more police training
- improve trust between minorities and police
- implement tools to eliminate racial profiling
The president of the Human Rights Commission says he hopes documenting the serious human and social consequences of hate acts will help guide future government policy and people on the ground who work to combat racism in Quebec.