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46 McGill L. J. 141 (2000-2001)
Hate Speech in Rwanda: The Road to Genocide

handle is hein.journals/mcgil46 and id is 151 raw text is: Hate Speech in Rwanda:
The Road to Genocide
William A. Schabas

The author outlines the steps leading to the
Rwandan genocide, tracing the importance of hate
speech, disseminated in print and by radio, in preparing
Rwanda's willing executioners. Action ought to have
been taken much sooner than it was to prevent incite-
ment to genocide, a crime under the Com'entionfor the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The author traces the drafting history of the convention,
including opposition by the United States to the crimi-
nalization of direct and public incitement to genocide,
motivated by concerns to protect freedom of the press.
The author notes that other international instruments
also contemplate prosecution for incitement. He dis-
cusses the judicial interpretation of the Genocide Con-
vention and the meaning of direct and public.
While the Genocide Com'ention criminalizes incite-
ment to commit genocide, its blind spot is that it fiils to
address hate propaganda, a prior and important step in
the genocidal food chain. Other instruments of interna-
tional human rights law, however, have since filled the
gap in the Genocide Convention. While the Genocide
Convention was clearly intended to have two prongs,
prevention and punishment, it says little about the for-
mer This is regrettable, as the early stages of genocide
consist of propaganda against the targeted group.

Uauteur pr&ente un rsumd des drapes ayant m-
nd au gnocide rwandais. En ce faisant, il porte un at-
tention partiui e au rOle de la propaganda hainwesa.
dissdmin e par l'entremise de ha radio et de diverses
publications, dans la preparation des 4beun-eaux vo-
lontairesD qui Pont men6 4 bien. I1 conclut qua des ac-
tions visant a prdvenir l g6nocide, qui constitue un
crime au sns de la Comention pour la privention et la
r~pression du crime de gnocide, auraiant da C tre prises
bien plus tft. Les travaux pr6paratoires d. la Cornen-
tion r&'alent que, par cxemple, ha prnoccupation par les
ftats-Unis de protdger la liberta de presse a mztan ce
pays at s'opposer at la criminalisation cia l'incitation pu-
blique et directe au gdnocide, alors qua d'autres ins-
truments juridiques internationaux prdvo!cnt la possi-
bilitd de poursuites pour incitation. Vauteur trne dga-
lement les grandes lignes da l'interpr~dation judiciaire
de la Convention, en particulier ea c qui concerne la
signification des termes ,directem ct ,apubliquzt. Bien
que la Convention criminalise l'incitation au g6nocide,
l'absence de mesures contre la propaganda hainause.
une .tap prdalable et importante dans la chalra des
,vdnements menant au g~nocide, constitue son point
faible. Cette lacuna a dtd combldc par d'autres instru-
ments internationaux relatifs aix droits i l'homrma I1
reste toutefois quo ia Convention, qui dvait a l'origin
assurer t la fois la prvention et la rpression du gdno-
cide, n'assure pas ad~quatement 'atteinte ca ce pre-
mier objectif. C'est lt una conclusion regrettable. car ia
prermire Etape i franchir sur lc cheanin du g~nocide
consiste an une propaganda efficace ht l'encontre du
groupe visd-

SMA. (Toronto), LUD. (Montreal), Professor of Human Rights, National University of Ireland,
Galway, and Director, Irish Centre for Human Rights. This paper was prepared for a panel on 'ate
Speech, Hate Crimes, Genocide at the international conference Hate, Genocide and Human Rights
Fiy Years Later: What Have We Learned? What Must We Do? (Faculty of Law, McGill University,
28 January 1999).
© McGill Law Journal 2000
Revue de droit de McGill 2000
To be cited as: (2000) 46 McGill LJ. 141
Mode de rff&ence: (2000) 46 RD. McGill 141

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