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Before mosque attacks, New Zealand failed to record hate crimes for years

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:08s - Published < > Embed
Before mosque attacks, New Zealand failed to record hate crimes for years

Before mosque attacks, New Zealand failed to record hate crimes for years

In the wake of the Christchurch shootings, New Zealand's failure to track hate crimes is under new scrutiny.

The country has received many requests to do so from local and international agencies over the past ten years, but has not acted on them.

Eve Johnson reports.

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Before mosque attacks, New Zealand failed to record hate crimes for years

Was New Zealand's worst mass shooting part of a pattern?

The Christchurch attacks took 50 lives at two mosques in March.

But whether they were part of an upswing in attacks on religious minorities, well, that's a question the country is struggling to answer.

Unlike western countries including the U.S. and UK, New Zealand doesn't track hate crimes.

In fact, it's resisted calls to do so for more than a decade.

Reuters Charlotte Greenfield says its a source of frustration for some.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD, SAYING: "Human rights officials have been telling us that this is a real problem because without that data they're not able to analyze trends and warn government agencies and help them to allocate their resources to respond to any threats that could be rising." It's not just New Zealand's Human Rights Commission behind requests for better data on hate crimes.

The UN has also logged concerns over the issue.

But even without centralized data there are some disturbing signs.

Over the past five years, the Human Rights Commission has recorded a 26% uptick in complaints over inciting racial disharmony.

And then there's the anecdotal evidence.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD, SAYING: "So even just a few weeks before these attacks in Christchurch, Muslim leaders in Auckland were getting some emails of a man who was threatening to burn the Koran outside mosques in Auckland and Hamilton.

Even sort of two years ago, though, the Al Noor mosque - one of the mosques that was attacked in Christchurch - a man delivered pigs heads to the mosque.

And he was actually charged in the district court with offensive behavior.

So these things definitely do happen.

A lot of Muslim groups say that they have felt under a lot more threat in recent years as groups such as ISIS have started to dominate global headlines.

But the country may be changing things up in the future.

Following the Christchurch attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a high-level investigation tasked with figuring out how the attacks might have been prevented.

Meanwhile, a suspected white supremacist has been charged with murder over the shootings.

And will appear in court again on April 5.




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