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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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Note on contributors


Klaus Bachmann is professor of social sciences at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland. His research concentrates on International Criminal Justice, Modern European History, European Integration and German Colonialism. He is the author of Genocidal Empires. Germany Colonialism in Africa and the Third Reich, Berlin: Peter Lang 2018.

Christian Garuka is a criminal lawyer and defense counsellor in Kigali, Rwanda. His research interests focus on International Criminal Law and domestic criminal law. He worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania and recently published several book chapters and journal articles about post-genocidal justice in Rwanda.

Grażyna Baranowska is an assistant professor at the Institute of law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, in the Poznań Human Rights Centre. Her research focusses on memory laws, enforced disappearances and missing persons. Her monograph on enforced disappearances in Europe is forthcoming with Intersentia (Transitional Justice series).

Ireneusz C. Kamiński is professor of law at the Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. He also teaches at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland. His main area of expertise is international public law and human rights law, in particular the European Convention of Human Rights. Between 2014 and 2016, he was an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights.

Igor Lyubashenko is an associate professor at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. His academic...

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