The expansion to other bias motives
All case discussed so far concerned racism as a bias motivation. In a judgment rendered in the case of Milanovi? v. Serbia the ECtHR extended this line of jurisprudence also to cover violence motivated by the religious affiliation of the victim. The case concerned a series of violent attacks against the member of a Hare Krishna community.
The ECtHR considers “that, just like in respect of racially motivated attacks, when investigating violent incidents State authorities have the additional duty to take all reasonable steps to unmask any religious motive and to establish whether or not religious hatred or prejudice may have played a role in the events”.
The ECtHR also extended this line of jurisprudence to cover homophobic violence in Identoba and Others v Georgia. The case concerned a peaceful demonstration in Tbilisi in May 2012 to mark the International Day against Homophobia, which was violently disrupted by counter-demonstrators outnumbering the marchers. The court found that the attack was instigated by those with a hostile attitude towards the LGBT community in Georgia.
The court stated that the violence, which consisted mostly of hate speech and serious threats, but also some sporadic physical abuse in illustration of the reality of the threats, rendered the fear, anxiety and insecurity experienced by all thirteen applicants severe enough to reach the relevant threshold under Article 3 read in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention. The court considered that due to reports of negative attitudes towards sexual minorities in some parts of the society, as well as the fact that the organiser of the march specifically warned the police about the likelihood of abuse, the law-enforcement authorities were under a compelling positive obligation to protect the demonstrators, including the applicants, which they failed to do. Lastly, the authorities fell short of their procedural obligation to investigate what went wrong during the incident of 17 May 2012, with particular emphasis on unmasking the bias motive and identifying those responsible for committing the homophobic violence. The court thus concluded that there had been a breach under Article 3 taken in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention.
Another noteworthy case was Dordevic v Croatia which concerned the bias motivation of disability. The case concerned the complaint by a mother and her son with mental and physical disabilities that they had been harassed, both physically and verbally, for over four years by children living in their neighbourhood, and that the authorities had failed to protect them. The ECtHR found that the Croatian authorities had not done anything to end the harassment, despite their knowledge that the son had been systematically targeted and that future abuse had been quite likely. The ECtHR concluded that Article 3 ECHR had been violated. In respect of Article 14 the ECtHR found that internal remedies available in Croatia had not been exhausted and the complaint was therefore rejected in that respect. Strictly speaking the case is not a hate crime case because the perpetrators were primary school children and thus below the age of criminal responsibility, but the case is still mentioned here to illustrate the willingness of the ECtHR to consider the bias motivation of disability.
The case Virabyan v. Armenia concerned the torture of an opposition activist in police custody and bias motivation of political motivation. The Court also criticised the Armenian authorities for failing to conduct an effective investigation into Mr Virabyan’s allegations that his ill-treatment had been politically motivated.
The expansion to other bias motives