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Criminalizing History

Legal Restrictions on Statements and Interpretations of the Past in Germany, Poland, Rwanda, Turkey and Ukraine


Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Christian Garuka

Why do states ban certain statements and interpretations of the past, how do they ban them and what are the practical consequences? This book offers an answer to these questions and at the same time examines, whether the respective legislation was supply-or demand-driven and how prosecutors and courts applied it. The comparison between Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Rwanda and Turkey offers several surprising insights: in most countries, memory law legislation is supply driven and imposed on a reluctant society, in some countries they target apolitical hooligans more than intellectuals or the government’s political opponents. The book also discusses, why and how liberal democracies differ from hybrid regimes in their approach to punitive memory laws and how such laws can be tailored to avoid constraints on free speech, the freedom of the press and academic freedoms.

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Genocide Prevention and the Punishment of Genocide Ideology in Rwanda: Christian Garuka


(Christian Garuka)


The Genocide committed in 1994 Rwanda attracted interest from various individuals with different backgrounds, including historians, journalists, and politicians, to name just a few. In the aftermath of the Genocide, conflicting versions of the causes and consequences of the genocide emerged. Some authors have even questioned both the identity and the number of the victims.

The International Panel of Eminent Personalities established by the then Organization of the African Unity to investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events acknowledged the conflicting versions of the history of Rwanda before and in the aftermath of the Genocide.107 This chapter does not aim at revisiting the history of Rwanda but it rather analyzes the rationale for the enactment of the law preventing genocide and punishing genocide ideology together with the impact of these laws from historical perspective. It also critically analyzes repercussions triggered by these laws at both national and international levels.

This section explains the aims and justifications brought for the enactment of laws dealing with genocide prevention and the punishment of genocide ideology. The obligation to prevent and punish genocide is provided under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (hereinafter the Genocide Convention).

It is ironic to observe that Rwanda enacted laws which prevent and punish genocide only after genocide was committed in 1994 where more than one million mostly Tutsi were killed.108 This is ironical in a sense that...

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