CFE is concerned at the move to criminalise hate speech in the draft Prevention of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, currently before Parliament.
CFE abhors hate speech. It is a scourge that hurts individuals and our society and must be prevented as best we can. But CFE does not believe that criminalising it is either effective or desirable, and believes there are enough measures in existing common law to deal with the problem (such as crimen injuria and assault, which have been effectively used in our courts against hate speakers already).
The Bill proposes more severe punishment for crimes motivated by hate, and CFE supports this. But CFE argues that it is not desirable to threaten prison for hate speech on top of this. International experience has shown that hate speech trials and imprisonment do not stop the scourge, but often creates martyrs and makes them famous among racist extremists. In our own South African experience, we have seen that driving speech underground (as the apartheid regime did) often attracts greater interst and gives it more value to those who would propagate it.
CFE would like to see this section removed from the Bill. Alternatively, CFE argues that the Bill should threaten prison only for the most extreme examples of hate speech that threaten violence and imminent harm. This would be more in line with international practice in open democracies and with our constitution’s commitment to free expression.
Please read our full submission here and an executive summary below.
From the Campaign for Free Expression (CFE)
October 1, 2021
Submitted by: Prof Anton Harber
Campaign for Free Expression NPC