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Have your say to stop Ramaphosa signing the Hate Speech Bill into law
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The National Assembly (NA) has passed the highly contested Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill now just needing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature.

CONSTITUTIONAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE BILL’S DEFINITION OF “HATE SPEECH”: 

The Bill contravenes section 36 of the Constitution, because it is:

    1. Unnecessary as existing laws have already been successfully implemented in various criminal and civil cases of hate speech.
    2. Overbroad: The Bill’s definition of “hate speech” is broader than the Constitution’s definition of hate speech, criminalising speech the Constitution sees as protected.
      The Bill’s definition of “hate speech” is also broader than the Equality Act’s civil law definition of (civil) hate speech. This will make it easier to be found guilty of a criminal offence and sent to jail for up to five years than to be ordered to e.g. apologise under the Equality Act.
    3. Vague and ambiguous: The Bill’s different elements for the crime of hate speech are either undefined (e.g. hate) or vague and/or ambiguous (e.g. social cohesion).

The Bill also contravenes the Constitution’s founding value of the rule of the law (section 1(c)), because it fails to define the essential element of “hate”. The result is that citizens are unable to know beforehand whether they are committing a crime or not.

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    An important message from Michael Swain – On 5 December 2023 Parliament passed the Hate Speech Bill – a law which will directly impact our right to freedom of religion! The Bill will now go to the President to be signed into law. Once President Ramaphosa signs it, it will be enforceable.

    TAKE ACTION!
    Write to President Ramaphosa to appeal to him not to sign the Bill into law! The Constitution (section 79(1)) allows him to send the Bill back to Parliament if he has concerns about whether it is constitutional or not!

    Dear Mr President (Template)

    The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill (the Bill), passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday, 5 December 2023, refers.

    REQUEST:

    I am writing to appeal to Your Excellency to send the Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration, because of the constitutional concerns below.

    CONSTITUTIONAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE BILL’S DEFINITION OF “HATE SPEECH”:

    The Bill contravenes section 36 of the Constitution, because it is:

      1. Unnecessary as existing laws have already been successfully implemented in various criminal and civil cases of hate speech.
      2. Overbroad: The Bill’s definition of “hate speech” is broader than the Constitution’s definition of hate speech, criminalising speech the Constitution sees as protected.
        The Bill’s definition of “hate speech” is also broader than the Equality Act’s civil law definition of (civil) hate speech. This will make it easier to be found guilty of a criminal offence and sent to jail for up to five years than to be ordered to e.g. apologise under the Equality Act.
      3. Vague and ambiguous: The Bill’s different elements for the crime of hate speech are either undefined (e.g. hate) or vague and/or ambiguous (e.g. social cohesion).

    The Bill also contravenes the Constitution’s founding value of the rule of the law (section 1(c)), because it fails to define the essential element of “hate”. The result is that citizens are unable to know beforehand whether they are committing a crime or not.

    OTHER CONCERNS ABOUT THE BILL:

    The Bill fails to incorporate the United Nations’ Rabat Plan of Action threshold test (the requirements used to determine culpability for criminal hate speech). Thus it will cause South Africa to break its international law obligations and commitments to: uphold freedom of expression and impose criminal sanctions for hate speech only as a last resort measure in strictly justifiable circumstances.