Human Rights Commission publishes overview of legal framework on hate speech

Commission intends the overview to contribute to the complex effort to respond to the Christchurch mosque massacre

Human Rights Commission publishes overview of legal framework on hate speech

Human Rights Commission, Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, has published an overview of the country’s current legal framework on hate speech.

In its “Kōrero Whakamauāhara: Hate Speech” report, the commission frames the release of the framework as tackling hate speech, also called harmful speech, as only one facet of what it says will be a complex and multi-faceted response to the Christchurch mosque attack in March last year.

Paul Hunt, chief human rights commissioner, said many introspective questions were brought about by the attack.

“People asked, what was the source of this hate? Have we been doing enough to tackle Islamophobia, racism and antisemitism? As a multicultural society, based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, how can we defeat these and other forms of hate, for example, against disabled people, women and the rainbow community? How can we promote an inclusive society that encompasses all individuals and communities, including those who feel silenced and forgotten? What are the core values that should guide our collective response to 15 March?” he said.

The questions imply that the appropriate collective response to the attack will include local, national, and international initiatives, he said.

“It will encompass a variety of policies, program and practices. The legislation prohibiting semi-automatic weapons, enacted in April this year, demonstrates that law has a role to play,” he said.

The overview published by the Human Rights Commission aims to provide an accessible introduction to hate or harmful speech in national and international law, where readers can take away insights including the reasons for and against regulation of hate speech, relevant international human rights laws, New Zealand’s current hate-speech laws, or the approaches taken by other countries to tackle hate speech.

“Aotearoa New Zealand will not be defined by 15 March, it will be defined by our collective long-term response to the catastrophe,” he said.

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