South Africa to criminalize ‘hate’, incl. ‘hate speech’

hate_crime_1_A draft Policy Framework on Combating Hate Crimes, Hate Speech and Unfair Discrimination has been finalised that will introduce the concept of hate crime to South African criminal law, giving effect to international legislation aimed at balancing the right to dignity with the right to free speech. Legalbrief Policy Watch reports that Justice and Constitutional Development Minister announced this yesterday during an address to guests at a discussion panel hosted by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.

According to the Minister, the draft framework seeks to address ‘newly-defined hate crimes’ – including hate speech – where there is evidence of a discriminatory motive for targeting characteristics that include but are not limited to race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation. He said that the draft policy framework attempts to define the concept of hate speech in a way that reflects South Africa’s commitment to freedom of expression.

Jeff Radebe, South Africa's Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

Acknowledging that people are often victimised despite ‘the presence of the law’, Radebe emphasised the importance of ensuring that hate crime does not spin out of control and lead to anarchy. He also pointed to the need for ordinary South Africans to be educated about the values underpinning the proposed new policy, referring in particular to an ill-conceived perception that foreigners are not entitled to the same rights as South Africans.

Once the draft policy framework has been approved by Cabinet, it will be released for public comment. – Legalbrief Today at legalbrief.co.za