The completion of a review in to hate crime legislation is an important first step in addressing the issue, Justice Minister Naomi Long has said.
Judge Desmond Marrinan was appointed by the Department of Justice to carry out the independent review.
Speaking after receiving Judge Marrinan’s Report, Naomi Long said: “Judge Marrinan has undertaken a thorough review of our hate crime legislation. I know that he has consulted widely with a range of experts, academics, interested individuals and groups, not only across Northern Ireland, but further afield as well.
“The recommendations in his Final Report are complex and wide–ranging and people may hold contrasting views on some of them. That is why I want to take some time to give them careful consideration.
“It is important that we build on the opportunity this provides for us to move towards strengthening and updating hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland.
“Hate crime in any form is unacceptable and addressing it is one of my priorities. Whether offline or online, targeting a person because of who they are or what they believe – be it their race, religion, political belief, sexuality, gender identity or disability – is wrong.
“I want to thank Judge Marrinan for his work on reviewing hate crime legislation and for producing a comprehensive final report.”
His final report contains 34 recommendations focussed on ensuring that existing hate crime legislation represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred by considering issues such as: the range of protected characteristics; aggravated offence model for prosecutions; the use of stirring up offences; opportunities for restorative justice; support for victims; and online hate speech.