Friday, November 19, 2010

Library of Parliament Publication on Anti-Hate Laws and Freedom of Expression

The Library of Parliament has published a new study on Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, Anti-Hate Laws and Freedom of Expression:

"Among the laws that have restricted freedom of expression are those referred to as anti-hate laws, for their purpose is to restrict the publication of messages intended to incite hatred towards members of particular groups. For example, section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) makes it a discriminatory practice for anyone to communicate by telephone, by a telecommunication undertaking, or by a computer-based communication, including the Internet, any matter that is likely to expose anyone to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that he or she is a member of a particular identifiable group. Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code prohibit the promotion of genocide or the incitement of hatred in public. The Supreme Court of Canada has found these restrictions on the freedom of expression to be justifiable under the Charter and the reasonable limitations it permits on rights and freedoms in Canada’s free and democratic society. The Court found that the harm caused by hate propaganda is not in keeping with the aspirations to freedom of expression or the values of equality and multiculturalism contained in sections 15 and 27 of the Charter."

"In recent years, a number of people and organizations have called for the reform of Canada’s anti-hate laws. In particular, there have been calls for the repeal of section 13 of the CHRA (as well as any provincial counterparts), and for broader reforms to Canada’s human rights institutions that would change the manner in which they handle hate propaganda complaints. Others have conversely urged Parliament to maintain the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to process and to hear cases of hate propaganda, if and when any reforms are undertaken."

"This paper provides information pertaining to section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and those related provisions in section 12, the anti-hate provisions of the Criminal Code and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression contained in the Charter. Firstly, it reviews the nature of the human rights protections in the Act and in the Charter. It also reviews the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). It then provides a brief analysis of anti-hate laws in Canada and the potential effects of certain proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:10 am


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