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Ramaphosa signs hate crime law

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlawed hate crime in South Africa.

Presidential spokesman Vincent Magwenya on Thursday said Ramaphosa had assented to the Preventing and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which outlaws offences of hate crimes and the offence of hate speech and the prosecution of persons who commit those offences.

“This legislative measure gives effect to South Africa’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.”

He said the new Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech 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.
 
“A hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognised offence under any law that is motivated by prejudice or intolerance on the basis of one or more characteristics or perceived characteristics of the victim, as listed in the legislation or a family member of the victim.”
 
“The definition of the crime extends to offences targeting the victim’s association with or support for a person with one or more of the listed characteristics or a group of persons who share these characteristics.”
 
“The offence of hate speech applies to any person who intentionally publishes, propagates, advocates, shares or communicates anything to one or more persons in a manner that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be harmful or to incite harm and to promote or propagate hatred based on defined grounds,” explained Magwenya.
 

The law also makes it an offence when speech material is intentionally distributed or made available in electronic communication, and the said person knows that such electronic communication constitutes hate speech.

The law excludes from the ambit of hate speech anything done in good faith in the course of engagement, such as:

  • artistic creativity, performance or other form of expression;
  • academic or scientific inquiry;
  • fair and accurate reporting or commentary in the public interest;
  • interpretation and articulating or espousing of any religious conviction, tenet, belief, teaching, doctrine or writings, that does not advocate hatred or constitutes incitement to cause harm.
     
    “The law also contains directives on training and other measures to be undertaken by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ensure effective processing of the newly defined crimes,” said Magwenya.

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