Crime & Justice

New Zealand seeks to toughen hate speech laws

Sydney, Australia, Jun 25 (EFE).- The New Zealand government announced Friday that it seeks to tighten laws against hate speech, in response to the terror attack on two mosques in which 51 people died in 2019 in the city of Christchurch.

The measure is one of the recommendations previously issued by a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the assault perpetrated by Australian Brenton Tarrant, who in August last year was convicted of terrorism, murder and attempted murder, and sentenced to life in prison.

“Protecting our right to freedom of expression while balancing that right with protections against ‘hate speech’ is something that requires careful consideration and a wide range of input,” Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement.

With this legislative reform, the New Zealand government aims to provide greater clarity on the criminal offense of hate speech and toughen sentences.

Under the proposal, a person who “intentionally incites, stirs up, maintains or normalises hatred against any specific group of people” would violate the law by being “threatening, abusive or insulting, including by inciting violence,” according to the government.

The punishment for such crimes would increase from up to three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to NZ$7,000 ($5,000), to up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to NZ$50,000.

The proposals are now open to public consultation, and contributions can be sent through the Ministry of Justice website until Aug. 6.

On social media, Tarrant livestreamed his attack against the faithful in the mosques and published his white supremacist manifesto.

The massacres prompted a reform of New Zealand’s gun ownership regulations and a global campaign against hate on the internet called the Christchurch Call, promoted by Wellington. EFE


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