When does hate speech cross the line into incitement of violence? And how does incitement get prosecuted around the world when it leads to violent atrocities like genocide? Are legal categories like incitement to genocide in international law all that effective at preventing or deterring this kind of speech? In her paper, Shannon Fyfe walks us through these complicated legal and philosophical questions as they played out in the trial of three media executives held by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for incitement during the Rwandan genocide. She also discusses incitement in domestic jurisdictions and the January 6 attacks in Washington DC.
Links and Resources
- Shannon Fyfe
- The paper
- Rwanda Genocide: 100 days of slaughter
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
- Genocidal Language Games by Lynne Tirrell
- Background in Austin's Speech Act Theory
- Speech Acts by Mitchell Green
- Holocaust and genocide denial
- Genocide: A Normative Account by Larry May
The judgements handed down by the ICTR in the Media case established that certain types of speech can constitute or contribute to some of the most harmful crimes under international law. By distinguishing between genocidal hate speech, genocidal incitement speech, and genocidal participation speech, I have shown how speech act theory justifies the international criminal law that places individual criminal responsibility on the perpetrators of these forms of speech. My account responds to two debates that pervade the intersection of hate speech and international criminal law: namely, the balancing of freedom of expression with the prevention of violence, and the challenge in imposing individual criminal liability for the inchoate crime of incitement to genocide.