The Prosecutor v. Vojislav Šešelj: A symptom of the fragmented international criminalisation of hate and fear propaganda

Mohamed Badar, Polona Florijančič

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Abstract

On March 2016, the ICTY Trial Chamber found one of the greatest hate and fear propagandists of the Yugoslav wars, Dr Vojislav Šešelj, not guilty on all counts of the indictment. The verdict sent shock-waves across the affected communities which were all too aware of the disastrous impact his propaganda had on the emergence and gruesome nature of widespread atrocities committed against them and their families. As is usual for international speech crimes trials, a full comprehension of the role the propaganda played was lost and the partial reversal of the judgment at the Appeals Chamber provided little improvement in this regard. Yet the blame does not solely rest with the Chambers but also with the Prosecution and an utterly fragmented law applicable to hate and fear propaganda which in many ways forces a sui generis phenomenon to be considered in terms of classical criminal law concepts such as incitement, instigation or aiding and abetting. This article looks in depth at the Šešelj case in order to highlight the many hurdles to effective prosecution of such propaganda, some specific to the case and others symptomatic generally of charges brought based on speech acts before international criminal tribunals. It then takes a multi-disciplinary approach in presenting the nature of hate and fear propaganda in order to suggest a broader way of looking at causality as well as argue for reform of the current applicable law to enhance its preventative function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-491
Number of pages87
JournalInternational Criminal Law Review
Volume20
Issue number3
Early online date18 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2020

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