Considering the infliction of emotional harm within the context of criminal law
Author Charnelle Van Der Bijl
Affiliations: BLC, LLB, LLD (University of Pretoria), Research Fellow in the Department of Criminal and Procedural Law, University of South Africa.
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 33 Issue 1, p. 192 – 209
There is an emerging trend towards the recognition of the criminalisation of the infliction of emotional harm in its own right. The criminalisation of the infliction of emotional distress in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States as well as the Australian state of Tasmania, has been the subject of rigorous academic debate. This article examines emotional harm from a comparative criminal law context. The common law position in South Africa relating to crimen iniuria is critically evaluated. Legislative reform and academic views in the United Kingdom, United States and Tasmania are investigated. Criticism regarding the creation of a crime of inflicting emotional harm is highlighted throughout. The intentional infliction of emotional distress statute under tort law in the United States of America is reviewed by analogy. A possible stand-alone model definition for the infliction of emotional harm is critically considered.