Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, poses during a media launch for an EU referendum poster in London, Britain on June 16, 2016. (Reuters photo)
Politicians in the United Kingdom helped fuel a sharp spike in hate crimes against minority groups in the weeks before and after the Brexit vote on June 23, a UN body says.
"Divisive" and "anti-immigrant" rhetoric by UK politicians during the EU referendum resulted in the outbreak of xenophobia and intimidation against ethnic minorities, said the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in its latest report.
“Many politicians and prominent political figures not only failed to condemn it but also created and entrenched prejudices, thereby emboldening individuals to carry out acts of intimidation and hate towards ethnic or ethno-religious minority communities and people who are visibly different,” the report said.
UK police saw an increase of 42 percent in hate crime claims in the weeks before and after the polling day, with some 3,198 filed between June 16 and 30.
Last month, 6,193 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from mid-June to mid-July.
"The committee remains concerned that despite the recent increase in the reporting of hate crimes, the problem of underreporting persists, and the gap between reported cases and successful prosecution remains significant,” the CERD report said.
"As a result, a large number of racist hate crimes seem to go unpunished," it added.
David Isaac, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, confirmed the report, saying, “We support the UN’s recommendations for effective investigation and prosecution of all acts of racist hate crime and wide-ranging action better to deter and punish perpetrators.”
Muslims living in Britain have also suffered an increase in hate crimes amid Brexit. According to statistics by Metropolitan Police, Muslims in London faced a 70-percent increase in Islamophobic attacks in one year.
In the June 23 referendum, about 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, while roughly 48 percent of the people voted to stay.