HAF Comments on Hate Crime Statistics Act Report

Tampa, FL (July 20, 2006) - The Hindu American Foundation represented Hindus as a part of a diverse coalition of civil rights, educational and religious submitting comments to the Department of Justice on its implementation of the Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA). Enacted by Congress in 1990, the HCSA requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity" (coverage was expanded to include disability in 1994) from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual report of its the findings.

On April 21, 2006, the Department of Justice requested feedback from the public on existing Hate Crime Incident Report and Quarterly Hate Crime Report forms that are used in the implementation of the Act. In a letter to Gregory E. Scarbro, Unit Chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services Division, the HAF joined groups such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, Interfaith Alliance, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in commending the FBI in its implementation of the HSCA thus far and providing suggestions for improving the data collection process.

Among the specific recommendations made for improving the annual report was to provide additional specificity in the Bias Motivation section, under Ethnicity/National Origin. The current form provides a box only for “Anti-Hispanic” and “Anti-Other Ethnicity.”

Because the FBI report, Hate Crime Statistics 2001, documented that the number of hate crimes directed at individuals on the basis of their national origin/ethnicity doubled -- from 911 in 2000 to 2,098 in 2001, the coalition recommended that the FBI include at a minimum, the “Anti-Other Ethnicity/National Origin” line to include a line that specifies “Anti-Arab,” the “Religion” section to include a line for “Anti-Sikh” and “Anti-Hindu,” and the “Sexual Orientation” section to include “Anti-Transgender,” as examples of such crimes. The specific language regarding anti- Hindu crimes was included upon the recommendation of the HAF, which provided evidence of hate crimes affecting this particular community over the past year.

“As we grow more diverse as a nation, the issue of race relations and hate crimes can no longer be discussed in terms of black and white,” said Suhag Shuka, Esq., counsel for HAF. “Detailed reporting of hate crimes affecting specific ethnic and faith communities will allow local law enforcement to recognize and distinguish far more easily an ordinary crime from one that has been motivated by hate.”