The Institute of Linguistics, the Department of Inclusion and Access to Learning of the University of Malta and The People for Change Foundation are proud to launch C.O.N.T.A.C.T., a project aimed at combating hate crime through research and training activities. The project is a partnership between 5 Universities and 7 NGOs in 10 countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Spain, UK), whose aim is to analyse, improve and encourage the reporting of hate crime and online hate speech, as well as to raise awareness about what hate crime is and how to prevent it. The partnership has received co-funding (€560,880) from the Rights, Equality & Citizenship Programme of the European Commission Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (JUST/2014/RRAC/AG).
Recent studies have shown that in the EU hate crime is often not seen as a serious offence and is significantly under-reported. In fact, even the definition of what constitutes a hate crime differs across EU member-states. In Malta, the issue is becoming increasingly relevant, as the influx of irregular migrants, the recent legalization of civil unions and the new Gender Identity Bill seem to have proliferated the problems of hate speech and hate crime targeted at minority groups on the Maltese islands.
The 2-year project will combine research on online hate speech and hate crime with capacity building activities with young people, the media, as well as legal and law enforcement professionals. In order to counter hate crime tactics, we will also provide training locally, develop an online network, a monitoring team, and an App to facilitate the reporting of hate speech/crime. The project will culminate in a major international conference to be held in Cyprus in May 2017.