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Foundation flags concerns over hate speech Bill

Publish date: 13 May 2024
Issue Number: 1076
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

The FW de Klerk Foundation has expressed deep concern over the signing of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill into law. The new Act provides for the prevention of hate crimes and hate speech, effective enforcement measures and the gathering and recording of data on hate crimes and hate speech. However, the foundation says it sets a dangerous precedent that undermines the very essence of freedom of expression and risks constitutional overreach. It said one contentious aspect of the Act is its treatment of religious expression. ‘While it exempts certain forms of communication, including religious expression, from being classified as hate speech, the Act’s language is open to interpretation and could lead to unintended consequences. For instance, insults directed at one's profession could be deemed hate speech under the Act’s provisions, potentially resulting in imprisonment. While the Act includes exclusions for artistic creativity, academic inquiry, journalism in the public interest and religious convictions or beliefs (except where there is incitement to cause harm), the definition of ‘harm’ is broad, encompassing emotional, psychological, physical, social, or economic detriment that undermines human dignity.’ The foundation says it recognises the importance of combating racism, discrimination and intolerance. However, it firmly believes that this Act’s approach is deeply flawed and potentially unconstitutional.

FW De Klerk Foundation statement

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