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Jeffery Shines Spotlight on Hate Crimes Legislation

September 21, 2018

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Developing specific legislation on hate crimes will have a number of advantages.

The deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffery, declared this during an address at a Workshop on the Recommendations for the Systematic Measurement of Discrimination held in Midrand.

Mention was made of the work the justice and constitutional development department was doing to finalise the National Action Plan (NAP).

The deputy minister also highlighted the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, currently before the national assembly.

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 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.

According to the deputy minister, drafting specific legislation on hate crimes will “help create a shared definition of hate crime amongst all those involved in the criminal justice system, will send a clear public message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in South Africa and will provide additional tools to investigators and prosecutors to hold hate crimes perpetrators accountable”.

“It will also provide a means to monitor efforts and trends in addressing hate crimes, and will allow for effective coordination between government service providers to reduce the impact of secondary victimisation on hate crimes victims”.

The proposed NAP calls on the department to conduct a baseline study that will serve as the basis to measure improvement in South Africa following implementation of the NAP.

An Early Warning system linked to a Rapid Response Mechanism will also be developed.