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Hate speech: Will the new dispensation hurt or harm?


In March 2018 Cabinet approved the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill and forwarded the draft legislation to Parliament. If passed by Parliament, the new Bill will round out an extant hate speech dispensation comprising protections under the Constitution, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000 and the common law. However, the criminalization of hate speech under the new Act has been the subject of controversy. While some sectors of society have urged the government to enact the legislation to address serious racist, xenophobic, homophobic and anti-religious verbal assault, others have argued that the Bill – and the hate speech provisions in particular – are a draconian limitation on freedom of speech and a threat to democracy.

This half-day workshop presented by the Mandela Institute will consider whether the new legal hate speech dispensation, holistically considered, will hurt or harm individual healing, social cohesion and national unity. While opposition against the Bill has been framed in terms of the right to freedom of expression, our concern is whether and how civil or criminal litigation will also promote other social values and goods. Contrasted with the emphasis on race that has dominated civil and criminal hate speech litigation of late, our interest also settles upon whether the hate speech dispensation is fit for purpose for other marginalized and vulnerable groups – immigrants, the LGBTQI+ community, and women for instance. An additional cross-cutting theme will be how the amplification and quickening of hate speech through the media and private social networking sites affects individual healing and social cohesion and what the responsibilities of actors in those sectors might be. 

Date:   30 June 2018

Time:   08:00 to 13:00

Venue: Auditorium, Chalsty Teaching and Conference Centre, School of Law, West Campus, University of the Witwatersrand

Cost:   R1,000 per delegate

Registrations close on Thursday 28 June 2018

Select link to view programme: Hate Speech Workshop Programme

Select link to complete registration form: Workshop Registration Form

Enquiries:  Magda Janse van Noordwyk | 011 717 8468 |