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Benefits of Hate Speech Bill Highlighted

July 4, 2018

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill will, once promulgated, send a “clear message that there is no place for hate crimes or hate speech in our society.”

The deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, emphasized this during an address at a recent Hate Crimes Workshop.

The deputy minister highlighted the advantages of laws against hate speech.

“It protects the rights of the victim and the target group and also ensures that society is informed that hate speech is neither tolerated, nor sanctioned.”

The bill was tabled in parliament in April 2018.

Comment was called on the proposed legislation at the end of 2016.

The bill seeks to:

• give effect to the Republic’s obligations in terms of the Constitution and international human rights instruments concerning racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in accordance with international law obligations;
• provide for the offence of hate crime and the offence of hate speech and the prosecution of persons who commit those offences;
• provide for appropriate sentences that may be imposed on persons who commit hate crime and hate speech offences;
• provide for the prevention of hate crimes and hate speech;
• provide for the reporting on the implementation, application and administration of this Act;
• effect consequential amendments to certain Acts of Parliament; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

In March 2018, the justice and constitutional development department announced that the draft bill had been revised following extensive submissions on the proposed legislation.

In particular, provisions dealing with hate speech were significantly changed.

The deputy minister also pointed out that the bill excludes the “bona fide interpretation and proselytising or espousing of any religious tenet, belief, teaching, doctrine or writings, to the extent that such interpretation and proselytization does not advocate hatred that constitutes incitement to cause harm, from the ambit of hate speech.”