Are there any laws covering hate speech in the Cayman Islands?
Auntie’s answer: This was another question for the Human Rights Commission (HRC), though a representative again cautioned that their answer can only be given in general terms and they cannot offer any legal advice.
The HRC official explained that hate speech is not legally defined in the Cayman Islands, but pointed to related laws.
We look first to the Bill of Rights of the Cayman Islands Constitution, specifically Section 11, which guarantees freedom of expression. The HRC explained: “This is a qualified right which means that the right can only be lawfully restricted or taken away by the government in certain broadly defined circumstances.” The list of criteria setting out those circumstances indicate when the government can lawfully interfere with or restrict that right, “balancing those rights against the rights and interests of others”.
In addition, the Penal Code (2017 Revision) comes into play. Sections 88-88C “create various criminal offences which may potentially be committed by individuals using hate speech”.
The HRC gave as an example Section 88B, which provides that “A person who…Uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour…within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress commits an offence…”
The official added, “Importantly, the same section also provides an explicit defence for a person who proves that their conduct was reasonable.
“The exact nature of what is said, when and with what intent, will all have a significant bearing on whether something comes within the broad definition of ‘hate speech’ (which is not legally defined in the Cayman Islands) and whether any law is contravened.”