There is no legislation on hate crime as such. Hate crime is not specifically addressed, defined or provided in the penal code or in any other law, as a crime per se. The only legislation relevant to hate crime is the Combating of Certain Forms and Expression of Racism and Xenophobia by means of Criminal Law, Law of 2011 (Law 134(I)/2011) which was introduced to transpose Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, which criminalizes only the specific conduct provided in the Council Framework Decision. In accordance with the legislation, racist or xenophobic motive is taken into account as an aggravating factor on the imposition of the penalty. No other protected characteristic however is provided as aggravating circumstances, such as sexual orientation.
The recording authority that collects official data on hate crimes is the Office for Combating Discrimination of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Cyprus Police. The official data are collected by the police stations using a standard form and are submitted at the end of the year to the Office for Combating Discrimination for further analysis. Despite the lack of relevant legal framework, according to the police, protected characteristics that are taken into account to determine bias motivation include
b) special needs
c) nationality/ethnic origin
g) political views
h) sexual orientation
When a victim of hate crime decides to report a complaint to the local police station the policemen are obliged, according to police orders, to ask questions that will help unveil bias motivations.
According to the official data /statistics, the most frequently reported cases are based on the ethnicity and nationality of the group, followed by race and political views. Reports from civil society organisations and migrant communities show that the most vulnerable groups to hate crime are migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and Turkish Cypriots. Unfortunately this reality is not reflected in the official statistics of the Police on hate crime.
From the Civil Society Organizations, KISA Support, Antiracism is the only NGO, which has set up an online mechanism that facilitates the reporting and recording of racist, discriminatory and hate speech/crime incidents. In Cyprus there are a number of grass-root organisations that are involved with the wellbeing of minority groups like KISA, Caritas, the Cameroonian Association, the African Diaspora, the Recognised Refugees in Cyprus and ACCEPT LGBT Cyprus, all of which play a major role in providing support of a more psychosocial nature with victims of hate crime.
The biggest challenge of LEAs is the lack of a more trusting relationship/cooperation with the CSOs and an agreed protocol between the two in order to provide the most effective support to the victims.
The biggest challenge for CSOs is the acknowledgement and respect of their role in the society as regards the fight of hate crime which also affects their resources and funding possibilities.