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Jewish leaders complain hate speech laws are too weak because they’ve never led to a successful prosecution

Sally Dowling hate speech laws

Jewish community and political leaders have claimed that New South Wales’ hate speech laws are inadequate since they have never resulted in a successful prosecution.

Liberal Senator Dave Sharma, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president David Ossip and The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-chief executive Peter Wertheim all told The Australian the provisions were not working.

But NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Sally Dowling said in a recent budget estimates hearing that she had no issues with section 93z, which bans the incitement of violence on race and religious grounds.

She said her office had “no difficulty” with 93z, which is subject to a Law Reform Commission review over concerns about its effectiveness, and revealed police no longer need to seek approval before laying charges.

Mr Sharma responded by saying: “If section 93z is adequate, then surely we should have seen charges laid by now.

“If this provision is to act as a deterrent for the sort of hateful speech directed at the Jewish community that we have seen far too much of, then prosecutions must be initiated and people compelled to defend their actions in court.”

Mr Ossip said the laws should be able to be used against “hate preachers” who attack “other Australians”.

“While the DPP does not see any difficulties or challenges with 93z, Australians recognise that the law in its current state is not fit for purpose,” he claimed.

Since 93z was enacted in 2018 charges have been laid four times. Two of those cases were annulled, while two led to convictions. One of those was successfully appealed while the other is under appeal.

The DDP has received nine other briefs from police, but none have resulted in charges being laid, Ms Dowling said.

The Jewish leaders’ comments come amid anger over a photograph of a man wearing a jersey in Palestinian colours saying October 7 – a reference to Hamas attacks on Israel – in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, on Saturday.

ECAJ co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin, said the man should be viewed as a “violent extremist”.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, chair of Jewish rights group Anti-Defamation Commission said police should investigate and identify the man, and “throw the book at him”.

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