I've been meaning to post on this matter for some time now. Recent IRL issues have meant that a brief admonishment to the PROC subforum has been delayed. Now all of you settle down and I'll begin.
A number of posts have made reference to a particular International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ("ICTR") case, concerning genocide. Whilst my emphasis has been on the ICTY and the ICC, I have a passing interest in what has been unfairly termed the bastard child of the ad hoc
UN tribunal family. I have taken the the step of starting a post about this because to invoke this case lightly is to firstly miss the point of this case, secondly to cheapen it, and thirdly to utterly fail to undertsand the nature of press and media freedom in the 'first world'.
The case in question is that of Nahimana, Barayagwiza, and Ngeze
, or the 'Hate Media Trial'.
The case centres around the activities of three journalists - Na was on the radio, B worked for the Radio station, and Ng worked on a newspaper.
Ng's paper published an article called 'Appeal to the Conscience of the Hutu' (I've been able to find a copy of it to link to). The following summary is taken from the ICTY trial chamber judgment:
The second part of the article, entitled “The Tutsi ambition”, described the Tutsi as “bloodthirsty”, and referred to their continuing ideology of Tutsi domination over the Hutu, and to the “permanent dream of the Tutsi” to restore Tutsi minority rule. The article referred to a plan of 1962, in which the Tutsi were to resort to two weapons they thought effective against the Hutu: “money and the Tutsi woman”. One part of the article, entitled “The Tutsi woman”, stated that Tutsi women were sold or married to Hutu intellectuals or highly placed Hutu officials, where they could serve as spies in influential Hutu circles and arrange government appointments, issue special import licenses, and pass secrets to the enemy. Another part, which included the The Ten Commandments, exhorted the Hutu to wake up “now or never” and become aware of a new Hutu ideology, with roots in and in defence of the 1959 revolution. Reference was made to the historical servitude of the Hutu, and readers were urged to “be prepared to defend themselves against this scourge.” The Hutu were urged to “cease feeling pity for the Tutsi!” The article then set forth The Ten Commandments.
The first commandment warns Hutu men of the dangers of Tutsi women and deems a traitor any Hutu man who marries a Tutsi woman, keeps a Tutsi mistress, or makes a Tutsi woman his secretary or protégée. Another commandment casts as a traitor any Hutu man who enters into business with Tutsi partners, invests his or state money in a Tutsi company, or lends to or borrows from a Tutsi. Other commandments require that strategic political, economic and military positions be entrusted to the Hutu, that students and teachers should be in the majority Hutu, and that the Hutu be united in solidarity and “seek friends and allies for the Hutu cause.” The ninth commandment concludes, “The Hutu must be firm and vigilant towards their common Tutsi enemy.”
The newspaper published other articles and editorials of a similar nature - designed to show that the entire racial group were evil, immoral, subhuman, and worhty only of contempt. My personal 'favourite' is the front cover of number 26: an image of a machete with the following text - "“What weapons shall we use to conquer the Inyenzi once and for all?”
The radio station was even more explicit:
They should all stand up so that we kill the Inkotanyi and exterminate them…the reason we will exterminate them is that they belong to one ethnic group. Look at the person’s height and his physical appearance. Just look at his small nose and then break it.
The key findings of the judgment are:
RTLM broadcasts engaged in ethnic stereotyping in a manner that promoted contempt and hatred for the Tutsi population and called on listeners to seek out and take up arms against the enemy. The enemy was defined to be the Tutsi ethnic group and Hutu opponents. These broadcasts called explicitly for the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic group. In 1994, both before and after 6 April, RTLM broadcast the names of Tutsi individuals and their families, as well as Hutu political opponents who supported the Tutsi ethnic group. In some cases these persons were subsequently killed. A specific causal connection between the RTLM broadcasts and the killing of these individuals -- either by publicly naming them or by manipulating their movements and directing that they, as a group, be killed -- has been established.
The Chamber has found that articles and editorials in Kangura, such as The Appeal to the Conscience of the Hutu, conveyed contempt and hatred for the Tutsi ethnic group, and for Tutsi women in particular as enemy agents, and called on readers to take all necessary measures to stop the enemy, defined to be the Tutsi population. The cover of Kangura No. 26 promoted violence by conveying the message that the machete should be used to eliminate the Tutsi, once and for all. This was a call for the destruction of the Tutsi ethnic group as such. Through fear-mongering and hate propaganda, Kangura paved the way for genocide in Rwanda, whipping the Hutu population into a killing frenzy.
The nature of media is such that causation of killing and other acts of genocide will necessarily be effected by an immediately proximate cause in addition to the communication itself. In the Chamber’s view, this does not diminish the causation to be attributed to the media, or the criminal accountability of those responsible for the communication.
Now, compare this with current-day America or Britain, and you'll see that... well, you can't. As far as I'm aware (and I will of course be gladly corrected), there are no licensed broadcasters or newspapers that advocate genocide.
On a technical note, genocide is the extermination of a specific racial, ethnic, national, or religious group, meaning that you cannot
commit genocide against a politcal or sexual group.
In terms of precedent, the ICTR is not binding on any national court, nor is it binding on the International Criminal Court. That is not to say that it is worthless, but rather that it is merely peruasive. To invoke this case in relation to any
discussion is about as persuasive as calling someone a Nazi because you disagree with them - essentially the reductio ad Hitler
The trial is deeply contraversial because it is equating speach (which should be free, right?) with a war-crime. Now, in the good old days, you actually had to have some policy-level control over the conduct of genocide to actually do it (in other words, its a leadership crime - generals and prime-ministers rather than captains and clerks). This case would suggest that you can incite people to genocide, and doing so carries the same punishment (life, reduced to 30 years) as actually doing the genocide in the first place, even though you have no control over the actual genocidaires.
To invoke the Hate Media case would be like drawing on the Eichman trial
in relation to a domestic murder.