In this companion paper to Part 9, chapter 4 of Ko tō tātou kāinga tēnei: Report of the Royal Commission into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Masjidain on 15 March 2019, we have explained why we consider that New Zealand’s current laws in relation to hate crime and hate speech neither appropriately capture the culpability of hate-motivated offending, nor provide workable mechanisms to deal with hate speech. We have set out our proposals for legislative change to address these issues.
We propose the creation of the following new hate-motivated offences in the Summary Offences Act 1981 and the Crimes Act 1961:
- hate-motivated offences for offensive behaviour and language, assault, wilful damage and intimidation that correspond with existing offences in the Summary Offences Act; and
- hate-motivated offences for assault, arson and intentional damage that correspond with existing offences in the Crimes Act.
We propose the following changes to the current hate speech laws:
- sharpening the focus of the statutory language;
- adding religion to the list of protected characteristics;
- including electronic communications in the types of publication covered;
- including the offence in the Crimes Act rather than the Human Rights Act;
- increasing the maximum penalty from three months’ imprisonment to up to three years’ imprisonment; and
- adding “racial superiority, racial hatred and racial discrimination” to the list of grounds for classifying a publication as objectionable under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.