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Guatemalan president names team to declassify military documents, shed light on abuses

Guatemalan president names team to declassify military documents, shed light on abuses

A new panel will work to declassify military documents that should shed light on killings, torture and other human rights violations during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, President Alvaro Colom announced Monday.
The documents will likely include details on the role of the military and the presidential guards, both of which have been accused of carrying out atrocities during the war that ended in 1996 and killed some 200,000 people, mostly Mayan Indians.
"We hope the archives will serve to clarify the history surrounding these human rights violations," the commission's chief, Orlando Blanco told The Associated Press.
His panel will study which papers should be declassified under a constitutional requirement that government documents be made public automatically unless their release compromises national security.
A spokesman was not immediately available to comment for the military, which has historically kept its documents under lock and key and fought almost all public requests to see them.
Blanco said it could take months to locate and sort through all the files and determine which will be released.
Colom announced the new team at a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of a U.N. report that found the army responsible for 95 percent of all human rights violations during the war.
Army officials have called the report exaggerated and say they took actions that were necessary to fight a guerrilla uprising.
Human rights officials are also combing through recently discovered archives of the National Police, a group that has been accused of kidnapping and torturing perceived opponents during the war.
Colom, who took office last month as Guatemala's first leftist president since the war, has promised to take a more active role in investigating past abuses.


Updated : 2021-03-09 06:33 GMT+08:00