20 February 2019

South Africa: Helen Suzman Foundation Questions Criminalisation of Hate Speech

opinion

South Africa has an existing legal framework for dealing with harmful and offensive behaviour. This Bill, if enacted, would damage this framework rather than improve it.

This is an edited version of a submission that the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) made to Parliament in response to the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (Gazette No. 41543 of 29 March 2018)

Our mandate is to promote and defend South Africa's constitutional democracy. The HSF's interest in The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill ("the Bill") centres on our commitment to our constitutional obligations of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. Central to our work is the defence of the rule of law.

The HSF has previously made written submissions on this Bill to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development ("the Department"). We would also like to make oral submissions during the public hearing phase of this Bill before the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services ("the Committee").

The HSF strongly urges the Committee to reconsider the way in which the Bill seeks to define hate speech. The introduction of a new criminal offence...

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