RIGA - The majority of hate crimes take place in the virtual environment, but the police need more tools to combat them more successfully, State Police Chief Armands Ruks admitted on Friday at a conference on hate crimes organized by the Society Integration Fund.
He expressed satisfaction that we live in Latvia, although our country also has problems, crime, including hate crimes.
Crime is a social phenomenon, so it is important to talk about hate crimes, said the Chief of Police, noting that at the same time it is important to separate hate crimes from the physical environment with the virtual environment, and currently hate crimes can be seen as a side effect of the technological environment. 20 years ago, when technology was not as advanced, hate crimes took place in a physical environment.
"We have observed that the absolute majority of things happen in the virtual environment. Hate breeds hate, and a crowd effect is created, but an offense in the virtual environment is evaluated in the same way as in the physical environment. We will not get away from this, so the division of society must countered in the current geopolitical conditions," Ruks pointed out.
Speaking about the police's ability to combat such crimes, Ruks pointed out that guidelines for training police officers have been created to reduce hate crimes, and regulatory acts have also been improved, but not everything has been successfully implemented. As an example, Ruks mentioned the fact that in administrative violations, the police do not have the opportunity to request IP addresses in the virtual environment. "We don't have the tools. I would call for a review of this issue if we want to fight such crimes more successfully. If there are no tools to counter such cromes, then a feeling of impunity arises and it continues to create the ground for hate crimes," emphasized Ruks.
The police face various forms of hatred on a daily basis. However, in 90 percent of cases, police responded to national and ethnic hatred, as well as insulting state symbols.
In his address, Ruks emphasized that hatred can be divided into situational hatred and belief hatred. One situation is when some actions take place while drunk for example, but it is more dangerous if hatred is cultivated in the family against an ethnic or social group.
In police practice, there have been common cases of targeting sexual minorities for years. At the same time reminding about the first pride events in Riga and the society's reaction to it, currently "society has grown". This means that everything is based on education and upbringing.
"Humanity is developing and the causes of polarization are changing. The war in Ukraine, illegal immigration, this creates a polarization effect," emphasized Ruks.