On Tuesday August 28 the latest version of the controversial Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill was published for public comment (https://pmg.org.za/call-for-comment/727/), reports Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA).
The original draft of the Bill received over 70 000 submissions, with many labelling it “draconian” (https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-03-13-draconian-hate-crimes-bill-will-destroy-freedom-of-speech/) and a “threat to democracy” (https://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/martin-van-staden/hate-speech-bill-a-threat-to-democracy-in-south-africa_a_23374035/).
Too little too late
The latest version of the Bill is only open for public comment until September 14. Given the far-reaching impact of this Bill, which will see a severe limitation on the right to freedom of expression, this is far too little time for the public to become aware of the Bill or to make sure that their voice and opinions are heard by parliament, says FOR SA in a media release.
FOR SA has written to ask parliament to consider extending the deadline for the public to comment on the Bill until September 28, allowing the public at least a month to consider and comment on the latest version of the Bill.
“Giving the South African public the opportunity and time to participate in law-making is a fundamental requirement of our democratic process. If this opportunity is not granted, a court may well require parliament to re-start the entire process”, said Michael Swain executive director of FOR SA.