Across Europe, millions of people experience violence and harassment due to their skin colour, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Yet up to nine out of every ten hate crimes are not reported to police, according to a new report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
The report highlights that many victims think reporting the crime would change nothing, find it too difficult to report or do not trust the police.
The failure to report hate crimes has devastating consequences, according to FRA.
"Hate crimes that are not reported cannot be investigated or prosecuted, resulting in impunity and emboldening perpetrators," the agency says.
"They also remain uncounted, obscuring the true extent of the problem and the urgent need for action. Victims that do not report such crimes will receive neither redress nor the necessary support," the report read.
Drawing on preview surveys, the EU agency says some minority groups experience twice as much violence as the general population.
"For example, whereas overall 9% of all respondents had experienced physical violence in the five years before the survey, the proportion is higher for those who belong to an ethnic minority (22%), for those who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, or identify themselves in other terms (19%), and for those who are severely limited in their usual activities due to a disability or a health problem (17%)," the report read.
“EU countries have a duty to ensure access to justice for all. But too many hate crime victims do not report being attacked and too many countries do not record hate crimes properly,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.
“This needs to change. Countries should simplify reporting and improve hate crime recording, investigation and punishment to fully uphold victims’ rights.”
Among other measures, the report recommends for example "enabling third-party or anonymous reporting," "providing practical guidance and training to the police," or "establish specialised hate crime units."