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“Antisemitism and hate crime” - training for EU judges and prosecutors


“Antisemitism and Hate Crimes” was the title of a training course for 33 judges and prosecutors from the Member States of the European Union, which took place at the Auschwitz Memorial on 7 October 2021. The training was organised as part of training activities of the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), and the organisation of the event was possible thanks to the cooperation of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust in partnership with the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution.


Photo: Katarzyna...
Photo: Łukasz...
Photo: Łukasz...

'We are pleased that the long-standing partnership of these two institutions was strengthened in December 2020 through the conclusion of a cooperation agreement. The outcome of this is the organisation of the second training course this year, the first to be held in a stationary format. We believe that the education of representatives of the judiciary at the Memorial will enrich their knowledge of the camp’s history in terms of human rights issues and the mechanisms that led to Auschwitz,' said Katarzyna Odrzywołek of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

The participants visited the site of the former German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp with an educator. They also listened to a presentation by Paweł Sawicki (Museum Press Office) on the symbolism of the Memorial.

The second part of the training focused on the historical and contemporary sources of antisemitism. This topic was presented by Professor David Feldman of Birkbeck University in London (Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism). The first day ended with a presentation by Katerina Vyzvaldova of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on the scale of hate crimes against Jews in the European Union and ways to combat such behaviour.

'The visit to the Auschwitz memorial represents an exceptional learning opportunity for EU magistrates to understand better the background and external factors connected with the genealogy of hate crime.  We have learned that hate crime does not discriminate any category and can also be legal,' said Arno Vinkovic, responsible for fundamental and human rights projects at the EJTN.

'The programmes covered the main points of the EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life (2021-2030) with additional hate crime case-law from the European Court of Human rights. The Auschwitz Museum and Agnieszka Kluczynska-Cichocka, EJTN Activity Coordinator, provided EU magistrates with an exceptional learning experience that we will never forget, and for which we are very thankful,' added Vinkovic.

The training concluded in Cracow on 8 October at the headquarters of the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution, where the participants continued discussions on the central theme of the seminar, with an emphasis on hate crimes and the role of the legal system in protecting persecuted persons.

'The central idea in the construction of the training programme was a holistic view of hate crimes. Consequently, a balanced emphasis has been placed on presenting how hatred originates and what impact it has on the behaviour of victims in contemporary Europe, and the legal assessment of the actions of perpetrators, as well as the protection of the rights of victims of crimes caused by prejudice,' said judge Agnieszka Kluczyńska-Cichocka from the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution

'We began the training on antisemitism and hate crimes with a study visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial so that the history of Auschwitz as a symbol of hatred of others - strengthens the awareness that the present we all create will be history for future generations and that its perception depends on our commitment to building a just world,' she emphasised.

For prosecutor Susana Figueiredo, a trainer at the Centre for Judicial Studies (CEJ) in Lisbon, it was particularly important to participate in this EJTN activity, and learning that 'hate crimes are matters of individual relationships and criminal phenomenon'. 'Learning from history is always an important tool to deal with the present; the activity of applying the law is no exception to this rule of shared experience,' said Susana Figueiredo.