Actions taken by the USA to control COVID-19 hate crimes
COVID-19 hate crimes act in the US
To address the nationwide spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2022, US President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May 2022. Following expert testimony about the spike in crime and grassroots pressure to defend Asian-American neighborhoods, the bipartisan measure was signed. The new Bill aims to enhance law enforcement’s ability to deal with hate crimes through public education campaigns, hate crime hotlines, and training for recognizing hate crimes. The Justice Department will quicken investigations and improve data gathering. The legislation aims to increase public awareness and accessibility of hate crime reporting at local levels.
Overview of the Act
The Congressional Research Service’s description of the Act lists five important provisions:
- A designated DOJ officer must expedite the review of hate crimes and related reports.
- State, local, and tribal law enforcement must receive DOJ guidance on setting up reporting procedures for online hate crimes and gathering information on protected characteristics.
- The DOJ and HHS must release recommendations to increase awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Act creates funds for state-run hotlines, crime reduction initiatives, law enforcement programs, and the National Incident-Based Reporting System.
- Judges may impose community service or educational requirements as a condition of supervised release for those found guilty of a hate crime charge on probation.
Criticism of the Act
Stop AAPI Hate criticized the new law for giving law enforcement more authority, saying that it will only address hate crimes rather than significant hate incidents since it focuses on criminal law enforcement authorities in its remedies. They urged the federal government to address systemic racism and oppression through funding community-based organizations, enhancing civil rights laws, investing in mental health and immigration services, and supporting all communities’ voices and historical events.
Activities undertaken post the Act’s enactment
On the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the Department of Justice launched initiatives to prevent and address hate crimes and bias-related occurrences. They released new guidelines in collaboration with the HHS to increase understanding of COVID-19-related hate crimes, distributed grant requests for state-run hotlines and neighborhood-based strategies, and hired their first Language Access Coordinator.
Law enforcement systems for reporting, tracking and tackling hate crimes
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was passed to enhance hate crime reporting, response, and prevention at the federal level. However, there is a trust issue between Asian American communities and the police. Some states, such as New York City, have acted to improve this relationship by creating specialized teams to respond to pandemic-related violence and harassment and to educate people about their rights.
Furthermore, many Asian Americans lack confidence that local police will treat them with respect and courtesy, with only 24% feeling very confident. 73% support training law enforcement to recognize anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander bias should be given. Additionally, there is a need to increase the number of Asian American police officers in locations with large Asian American populations since they make up 6% of the US workforce but only 2% of police officers.
As a positive intervention, states like New York City have established special response teams to address pandemic-related hate crimes and improve trust with the Asian-American community by providing education, referrals, and investigations.
Provision of health care facilities, especially mental health services
Health systems need to be prepared to provide culturally and linguistically suitable services (CLAS) to Asian American patients who may have experienced trauma. Clinicians of Asian American origins may need to establish trust with patients who have experienced violence and discrimination. Online services like the Asian Mental Health Project and the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association can link Asian Americans with culturally sensitive practitioners. Medical education should emphasize cultural sensitivity, and providers should inquire about prejudice, violence, and mental health issues with patients, as well as be aware of the social isolation and financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic. A responsive mental health workforce is critical, as many Americans of Asian origin may be hesitant to seek treatment.
Devoted research and funding
Only 0.17% of the National Institutes of Health’s research budget is allocated to studying the health requirements of AANHPI despite making up 7.0% of the US population. The Asian American Foundation has pledged significant multimillion-dollar community investments to address bullying in schools and engage interfaith leaders and journalists.
Education in schools
DOJ and the Department of Education offer resources to combat COVID-19-related harassment in schools, while school-based interventions can reduce racism and hate speech. 73% of Asian Americans support initiatives to educate the public on recognizing anti-AAPI bias to address their historical underrepresentation in society. AANHPI’s historical contributions to the US must be recognized, and more awareness is needed to combat entrenched prejudice and conflicts.
Removing public health reporting of bias
WHO and CDCP had cautioned that racially discriminatory rhetoric during COVID-19 can result in victimization, stigmatization, and division of people. President Biden signed an executive order directing agencies to prevent racism and xenophobia against AANHPIs. Furthermore, the new White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, co-chaired by Xavier Becerra and Katherine Tai, aims to resolve bullying and discrimination, improve quality and fragmentation, expand language translation, and better understand multigenerational household needs. Some local governments have approved resolutions condemning xenophobia.
1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
This convention requires nations to “condemn” and eradicate racial discrimination and improve tolerance among all races.
2. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) calls for governments to formally reject hate speech and launch awareness programs and educational policies to combat racism. Training for the police and legal systems is also important to ensure familiarity with international obligations protecting free speech and expression while safeguarding against hate speech. Human Rights Watch recommends that all governments establish action plans to address new forms of discrimination and xenophobia, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights providing guidelines for best practices.
Analysis and Conclusion
The incidents of brutality that are pursued in a developed, liberal and tolerant country like the United States put the whole world in a terrible shock. Though change has been brought across the nation to curb the discrimination and hatred towards the Asian-American community, future steps are required to address the growing public health concern of violence against Asian Americans, eradicate prejudice and hatred against Asian Americans, assess new tactics, and determine the future’s most effective methods of health and healing.