The Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG) has submitted written comments to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, on the long-awaited Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
The HCWG, a coalition of civil society organisations from a variety of sectors and disciplines, has been advocating for a comprehensive South African law against hate crime since 2009, and are eager to see the Bill progress to the next stage of the law-making process including public hearings. Once it becomes an Act, the draft law will:
- send a strong message that hate prejudice is unacceptable in our society
- assist the police and prosecutors in investigating, charging, and prosecuting hate crimes and hate speech
- give courts meaningful sentencing guidelines
- allow for the effective recording of data so that we can better understand the nature of the problem and create successful interventions.
While the Bill is welcomed by the HCWG, they note several weaknesses that need to be adequately addressed. These include superficial provisions for the prevention of hate crime and hate speech, and the lack of a costing of the Bill, amongst other key concerns. The submission makes several recommendations for the strengthening of the draft Bill.
For ease of referencing, the draft Bill as well as the HCWG's Easy-to-Read explainer of the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill are also available for download here.