Updated May 21st, 2021 at 14:08 IST

Joe Biden signs COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to counter violence against Asian-Americans

US President Joe Biden, on May 20, signed new legislation that would help reduce targeted violence against the members of the AAPI community.

Riya Baibhawi
Image: AP | Image:self

US President Joe Biden, on May 20, signed new legislation that would help reduce targeted violence against the members of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) community. The law seeks to address the hate crimes which witnessed a dramatic surge in the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking in the aftermath of signing the law, Biden asserted that the bill could help increase the reportage of violent crimes and subsequently reduce it.

“It will provide resources to create specialized hate crimes units that will also help states create hotlines for hate crimes at state and local levels that will be accessible for people with limited English proficiency. And it provides resources for training for state and local law enforcement to identify, investigate, and report these heinous crimes," Biden said after signing the legislation on Thursday”.

Dubbed ‘COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act’, a Senate-approved version of the bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week. This bill, which got an overwhelming Bipartisan approval, was introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng in the House, and incorporated the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act. In the aftermath, Christine Chen, executive director of rights group APIAVote said that the law will combat undercounting of hate crimes against the Asian American community while also ensuring the infrastructure needed to report such crimes , their data collection and providing justice.

"This bill will require the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, ensure online hate crimes and hate incident reporting are language accessible, expand public awareness campaigns designed to increase awareness and outreach to victims, disaggregate victims' protected characteristics, and expand restorative justice practices and alternative sentencing," said Chen, executive director of APIAVote.

Since taking office, the American President has condemned the violence that Asian Americans had to endure, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting that the community has been subjected to various “hate crimes”, Biden had stressed that while American residents should have been working in solidarity, that has not been the case.  The US has been witnessing multiple episodes of racially motivated violence and hate in the past months, which has now pushed hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans into fear. 

Image: AP



Published May 21st, 2021 at 14:08 IST

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