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‘Historic injustice’: Biden makes lynching a US hate crime

  • Published
    30th Mar, 2022

United States President Joe Biden has signed into law the first federal legislation that makes lynching a federal hate crime in the country after civil rights groups pushed for such a measure for more than a century.


About USA’s Emmett Till Anti lynching Act:

  • The new law carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and fines for anyone conspiring to commit an act of lynching that causes death or injury.
  • The new law, which will make lynching a federal offence, is the result of a century of efforts in the wake of incidents of lynching in which the victims were primarily African-Americans.
  • The Bill notes that between 1882 and 1968, at least 4,700 people, predominantly African-Americans were reported lynched in the US and that 99 per cent of the perpetrators of these lynching were not punished.
  • Yet, since 1918, of the more than 200 anti-lynching Bills introduced in the US Congress, none had been passed until the current legislation.

About lynching:

The word ‘lynching’ originated in mid-18th century America. Back then the term referred to vigilante justice meted out to black people. The term ‘Lynch’ has its origin after the name of a Virginia Planter named Charles Lynch who headed an irregular court, during the American Revolution, formed to punish loyalists.

  • Lynching is murder by a mob with no due process or rule of law.
  • Across the US, thousands of people, mainly African Americans, were lynched by white mobs, often by hanging or torture, in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
  • Some 4,400 African Americans were lynched between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative.
  • Those who participated in lynchings were often celebrated and acted with impunity.
  • Lynching is a longstanding and uniquely American weapon of racial terror that has for decades been used to maintain the white hierarchy.
  • The first anti-lynching bill was introduced in 1900, by George Henry White, the only black man then serving in Congress. The bill failed and continued to fail for more than 120 years.

Lynching laws in India

  • There is no national law made on mob lynching. Mob lynching is not defined in IPC, CRPC, and nor defined in the constitution.
  • Though there are certain provisions in the IPC, for example-
    • Section 223 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 states that persons or a mob involved in the same offence in the same act can be tried together.
    • Sections 302 (murder)
    • Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder)
    • Section 307 (attempt to murder)

Which states have anti-lynching laws?

  • Jharkhand: In Jharkhand, the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021 envisages imprisonment for those pronounced guilty of mob violence and lynching for periods ranging from three years to life term, besides fine and attachment of property.
  • Rajasthan: In August 2019, the Rajasthan government passed the 'The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019' providing for life imprisonment and a fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to those convicted in cases of mob lynching leading to victim’s death.
  • West Bengal: In August 2019, the West Bengal Assembly passed 'The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019', proposing a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for offences.



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