Is Genocide Different? Dealing with Hate Speech in a Post-Genocide Society

Journal of International Law & International Relations, Vol. 7, 2011

31 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014

Jennifer M. Allen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

George H. Norris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

The recent government crackdown on opposition voices in Rwanda discussing the country’s 1994 genocide raises important questions about freedom of speech in a post-genocide society. Does a country have greater latitude to restrict speech in the aftermath of destabilizing conflict? Rwanda has enacted a controversial new law criminalizing genocide denial and inciting divisionism. Under that law, opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and American law professor Peter Erlinder were recently arrested for statements allegedly challenging the 1994 genocide. Their cases strike at the heart of the challenges post-conflict countries face balancing civil liberties and freedoms with establishing the rule of law and preventing a slide back into violence. Which considerations should it take into account in deciding whether and how to limit speech? How can a country struggling to establish the rule of law provide effective checks on the potential misuse of speech restrictions? This Article examines how Israel, Germany, and the United States have protected and limited speech and how their experiences could inform speech regulations in post-conflict societies. It argues for post-conflict countries taking a middle ground between Rwanda’s current overbroad genocide ideology law and the United States' absolutist approach to address restrictions on speech.

Keywords: Rwanda, Genocide, Hate Speech, Freedom of Speech

Suggested Citation

Allen, Jennifer M. and Norris, George H., Is Genocide Different? Dealing with Hate Speech in a Post-Genocide Society (July 1, 2010). Journal of International Law & International Relations, Vol. 7, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1640812

Jennifer M. Allen

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

George H. Norris (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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