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Cablegate: Policing Hate Crimes - Latvian Ngo Hosts Seminar

VZCZCXRO0578
PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHRA #0734 2551421
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121421Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY RIGA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3320
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RIGA 000734

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV ASEC EUN LG

SUBJECT: POLICING HATE CRIMES - LATVIAN NGO HOSTS SEMINAR
FOR LATVIAN POLICE AND MEMBERS OF CIVIL SOCIETY

REF: A) RIGA 00602 B) RIGA 00575, C) RIGA 00533

1. Summary. On August 28, the Latvian Center for Human
Rights (a local NGO) hosted a seminar titled Policing Hate
Crime. Approximately 20 police officers and 20
representatives from the Latvian government and NGOs
attended. The daylong event covered a range of issues, but
the most valuable were: a) the dialogue the event initiated
between members of the Latvian Police Force and minority
communities; and (b) the presentations given by
representatives from the Northern Ireland, Swedish, and
Amsterdam police forces. In light of the disturbing events
of July 22 (ref A) that attended the cancelled gay pride
event and previously documented attacks based on race,
closer links between the Latvian police and minority
communities should improve communications links and
possibly help prevent such events from occurring in the
future. Post welcomes this independent initiative which
dovetails nicely with our earlier initiative to provide
training to police on dealing with racially motivated
crimes. End Summary.

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2. The Latvian Center for Human Rights (LCHR), a local NGO
that promotes human rights and tolerance, hosted a Policing
Hate Crime seminar on August 28. The LCHR organized this
event as part of a three-year anti-discrimination capacity
building project. The program was implemented in
partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (a
Dutch NGO) and funded by the Netherlands Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.

Victims' Perspective: At the Receiving End of Hate Crime
--------------------------------------------- -----------

3. The event covered a gamut of issues, but the morning
session concluded with representatives from the Afro-
Latvian Association (an NGO that advocates for people of
African descent in Latvia) and from Mozaika (a Latvian gay
rights organization) speaking at length about their
experiences of being verbally or physically assaulted by
skinheads and other hostile groups. This session became
quite emotional, with representatives from both Afro-Lat
and Mozaika expressing intense frustration that the Latvian
police do not appear to take threats and crimes against
minorities seriously. It is likely that this was the first
time many of the policemen present were confronted directly
by the concerns of these groups.

Policing Hate Crime
-------------------

4. During the afternoon, representatives from the Police
Service of Northern Ireland, the Swedish National Police
Force, and the Amsterdam Police all provided comments and
examples of how their forces communicate with minority
communities and address hate crimes. In particular, the
representative from Northern Ireland provided a detailed
presentation on reforms at his service that have helped
reduce sectarian violence in his country. He then
described his force's progressive minority outreach
programs. This cop from Northern Ireland, who has lived
and worked through years of extreme sectarian violence,
spoke at length about the benefits of developing close
links with both ethnic and gay communities. He stressed
that once his police force developed such links, the police
were able to solve more crimes--as members of these
communities came forward with information.

5. Comment. This seminar served as a useful additional
step in building police awareness of the significance of
hate crimes. It also broadened very limited communications
channels between the police and these minority communities
in Latvia. While some of the police in attendance clearly
looked uncomfortable, defensive, or bored, others were
paying close attention--particularly to the comments made
by the representatives from the Northern Ireland, Swedish,
and Amsterdam police forces. Hearing real cops talk
concretely about the utility of communications with
minority communities, and how this has improved their
capability to solve crimes likely had the most impact of
the various activities at the seminar. End Comment

BAILEY

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