A report from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) found there was an increase in hate speech and racist violence in the UK from 2009 to March 2016.
Blaming the press, ECRI Chair Christian Ahlund, said: “It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians.”
The report makes a whopping 23 recommendations to Theresa May’s Government for changes to criminal law, the freedom of the press, crime reporting and equality law.
And despite the report not analysing coverage of the historic Brexit vote, Mr Ahlund saw fit to comment on the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
In a sweeping statement, he said: “The Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.”
The report lays into the British press and urges the government to “give more rigorous training” to reporters.
In the 83-page report, the Commission said: “ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety.
“In this context, it draws attention to a recent study by Teeside University suggesting that where the media stress the Muslim background of perpetrators of terrorist acts, and devote significant coverage to it, the violent backlash against Muslims is likely to be greater than in cases where the perpetrators’ motivation is downplayed or rejected in favour of alternative explanations.”
Despite the creation of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in 2014 as an independent regulator for newspapers and magazines, the “ECRI strongly recommends that the authorities find a way to establish an independent press regulator according to the recommendations set out in the Leveson Report. It recommends more rigorous training for journalists to ensure better compliance with ethical standards.”
But as Britain prepares to leave the crumbling bloc, the Government waded in to defend freedom of expression.
In a written statement to the ECRI, the Government said: “The Government is committed to a free and open press and does not interfere with what the press does and does not publish, as long as the press abides by the law.”
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and racial discrimination.
The group writes reports on every member state every five years and says the documents are “analyses based on a great deal of information gathered from a wide variety of sources.
ECRI visited the UK in November 2015 as it gathered evidence for the report.
In a statement, ECRI said: “ECRI welcomed, among other things, the entry into force of the Equality Act 2010 and the generally strong legislation against racism and racial discrimination in the country, as well as the government’s new hate crime action plan and substantial efforts to promote LGBT rights in the UK which have led to a significant change in attitudes.