A Mouthful of Crimes: Facing the Challenges of Culture-Specific Propaganda as Evidence in International War Crimes Trials
52 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2017
Date Written: May 12, 2017
The concept of propaganda is an integral part of the vocabulary in all war crimes trials. It is, however, evident in both theory and practice that there is a multifaceted conceptual confusion in the interaction of propaganda, war crimes trials and international law. This contribution explores the significance of the propaganda-related evidence present in the culturally specific language and discourse identified in the records of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The key to understanding the ontological and evidentiary intricacies of any propagandistic situation begins at its conceptual-linguistic foundations. Examples from the Nazi Germany propaganda lexicon include concepts such as arisieren (aryanize) and aufnorden (nordify), suggesting the purification of their ancestral blood, followed more than half a century later by the Rwandan concepts of "Inyenzi," cockroaches, or "Inkotanyi," a reference to the nineteenth century military forces in Rwanda, and strong derogatory terms such as "Ustasha," "Turk" and "Balija," used during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Given these instances, international criminal proceedings have seen the emergence of a new type of evidence: a culture-determined plural of the many manifestations of propaganda. As a result, propaganda can neither be interpreted nor understood without an advanced forensic approach to the language employed by the propagandist. Utilizing a cross-disciplinary combination of philology, philosophy, history, psychology, anthropology, political science, linguistics, literary studies and other relevant fields of research, including law, as an amalgamation of cognitive and social science research with the humanities, this contribution employs a novel hybrid method to criminal and legal analysis. Applying this approach to some of the major propaganda cases in international criminal justice demonstrates how and why this hybrid method should be introduced into the process of identification and prosecution of the guilty minds of the propagandists and the networks of their associates.
Keywords: propaganda, international criminal law, IMT, ICTY, ICTR, evidence, cognitive science
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