Apr. 17, 2015
Islamic State Atrocity Videos Violate the Laws of War – David Fidler
The videos disseminated online by the Islamic State contain evidence of the commission of war crimes under international law. But these videos themselves violate the law of armed conflict and constitute war crimes. International humanitarian law (IHL) prohibits acts that humiliate, degrade or otherwise violate a person’s dignity. Making videos that record the execution of individuals and groups, and putting the videos online, represent outrages on the personal dignity of those killed.
International criminal tribunals have also charged and convicted individuals of war crimes for perpetrating acts or threats of violence, the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among civilian populations. Under this jurisprudence, posting the Islamic State videos online can be interpreted as threats of violence intended to terrorize civilians and, thus, a war crime. The writer is Professor of Law and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University. (Council on Foreign Relations)