Archives of the security services of former repressive regimes report prepared for unesco



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ARCHIVES OF THE SECURITY SERVICES OF FORMER REPRESSIVE REGIMES

 

 REPORT PREPARED FOR UNESCO



 

on behalf of the International Council of Archives

 

by

Antonio Gonzalez Quintana



 
 

© UNESCO

 

 



Paris : UNESCO, 1997




Contents

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Objectives

1.2. Work plan and methodology

2. ARCHIVES OF REPRESSION: A SOCIAL PROBLEM WHICH GOES BEYOND ARCHIVES
    ADMINISTRATION

3. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1. Reasons for preserving the documentary sources for the study of repression

3.2. The key role of archives in political transition
 

3.2.1. Collective Rights


3.2.2. Individual rights
3.2.3. The necessity to submit archives of the repression to the law
3.2.4. The necessity of divulging information about the archives of repressive regimes
3.2.5. The necessity for archivists in charge of documents of repression to adopt a Code of Ethics

4. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1. Identification of fonds

4.2. Appraisal

4.3. The Principle of provenance

4.4. Integrity of fonds

4.5. Description

4.6. Archival administration

5. TOWARDS A GUIDE TO SOURCES OF REPRESSION: AN OVERVIEW OF THE ARCHIVES
    OF FORMER REPRESSIVE REGIMES IN THE NEW DEMOCRACIES, 1974-1994

6. CONCLUSIONS

7. BIBLIOGRAPHY



1. INTRODUCTION

1.1.    Objectives

In 1993, at its Round Table Conference held in Mexico, the International Council on Archives decided to establish a group of experts to discuss problems related to archives of former repressive regimes, and to draw up a series of recommendations on how to handle such archives.

The aim was to achieve practical results. It was decided not to offer a set of rules applicable in all cases, because each process of political transition is different, but rather, through open debate within the group, to provide archivists of countries in the process of democratisation, with information on the range of problems they have to face. At the same time a catalogue of methods developed in various countries which have been involved in a similar process would be provided.

The experts also sought points of agreement, which are summarised in the list of recommendations included in the report, from the purely archival to the clearly political, which archivists could promote, although outside their area of expertise.

The experts also took into account the fact that archivists dealing with these documents will be handling very sensitive material. It was therefore considered important to propose a code of ethics for dealing with this documentation. The code is included in this report.

The working group began the work of collecting information on the archives of repressive institutions. Without doubt, the primary requirement for preserving this documentary evidence is increased knowledge of its existence. The group began with information provided by its members on their respective countries, to which was added information from colleagues in a limited number of other countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal and Zimbabwe).

The list includes references to former repressive institutions over the period 1974 - 1994 in the following countries: Brazil, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe. Although the information obtained from these countries was uneven, it does include the names of the principal fonds, the covering dates of the documents preserved, their state of conservation and approximate volume, and, wherever possible, the connection between the principal documentary series which they contain. The group felt it would also be of interest to add practical information such as the use made of these documents in the new political regime and the conditions for such use. This has allowed an initial statistical evaluation which the group believe to be valuable.

Not all the information collected could be included in the present study due to lack of space. However, a summary of the information has been given in section 5, entitled: ‘Towards a guide to the sources of repression: an overview of the archives of former repressive institutions in the new democracies (1974-1994)’. The group hopes that this short report will raise awareness in countries in the process of transition to democracy of the importance of the subject, and of the role of archivists.

Finally, conscious of the enormous task facing professionals responsible for managing such archives, the group has included among its conclusions a list of suggestions for the international community. These will serve to heighten awareness at the international level of the need to manage the documentary heritage. This study is itself one element in that awareness. The study also includes a short bibliography and a list of relevant legislation.

1.2.    Work plan and methodology

The group, which was sponsored by UNESCO, was established in February 1994, and included archivists with experience of this type of archive or of archival ethics, along with experts in human rights. The members were chosen to ensure equal representation of countries involved in political transition from central and eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Western Europe. In overall charge of the project was Antonio González Quintana, former Director of the Civil War Section of the National Historical Archive of Salamanca (Spain), from 1986-1994. The other members were Dagmar Unverhau, Director, Archives Division, The Federal Commissioner for the Documents of the State Security Services (Stasi) of the former German Democratic Republic, Germany, Lazlo Varga, Director, Municipal Archive of Budapest (Hungary), Vladimir Kozlov, State Archives, Russian Federation in Moscow (Russia), Alejandro González Poblete, President, National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation of Santiago (Chile), Narissa Ramdani, Director, Liberation Archives, Fort Hare (Republic of South Africa) and Mary Ronan, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington (USA).

The group held its first meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in 1994. Out of that first meeting came the initial statement of intent and the first statement of objectives and work plan. The group met again in Koblenz (Germany) in February 1995, to bring together the work carried out by its members, and specifically to try to deal with the theme of documentary valuation. A last meeting was held in Salamanca (Spain) in December 1995 to approve the final text of the report.

In order to collect information, members of the group compiled a short history of the most recent repressive institutions in their countries and how they dealt with the archives of these institutions. Questionnaires were drawn up to collect information which would form part of the ‘Guide to Archives of Repression’.



2.    ARCHIVES OF REPRESSION: A SOCIAL PROBLEM WHICH GOES BEYOND ARCHIVES
       ADMINISTRATION

The 1980s has seen an incomparable process of dismantling of repressive political regimes throughout the world.

Among the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which had been within the orbit of the Soviet Union since the Second World War, in a world divided by the Cold War, there began a process, starting in Poland, which would culminate in the 1990s with the total collapse of the existing political structures. The most symbolic element of this process was the fall of the Berlin Wall and German re-unification.

In parallel with these European developments, another unstoppable process of demolition of repressive political regimes began in Latin America. These were the conservative military dictatorships which had dominated practically all of the continent, in some cases for more than five decades, though in certain countries they had been interspersed with more or less stable democratic intervals.

Elsewhere at the same time, the African continent saw the end, after a period of prolonged struggle, of regimes based on repression by the political powers of specific races or ethnic groups. This ranged from the democratisation of Zimbabwe to the landmark of the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa in a matter of months.

Finally, the 1970s saw the disappearance of the conservative Western European dictatorships: Portugal, Greece and Spain. Coming at an early stage of the general process described above, the transition to democracy in these three countries resulted in three very different experiences, but each is of great value for reference purposes.

The present study covers a period of little more than twenty years, between the ‘Claveles Revolution’ in Portugal in April 1974 up to the end of the apartheid regime. This is not because there is no interest in going back further, to the middle of the 20th century and the end of Italian fascism or the fall of German Nazism, and there will be reference to both these periods throughout the text. It is because only by using the most recent experiences can points of reference be established that are valid for the world political context at the opening of the 21st century.

If we go back even further, to the beginnings of the modern state, we can see the first examples of power specialising in repression, of which the best was the Spanish Inquisition. In all probability the archives of this organisation are the fore-runner of modern archives of repression. This highlights the enormous importance which the proper preservation of this archive has for historians of the modern state. In fact, the National Historical Archive in Madrid (Spain) keeps the records of the Supreme Congress of the Inquisition as well the majority of the District Tribunals, making it an incomparable source for studying, not only the powerful connections of Spanish kings, but also the mentality and culture of the Renaissance throughout Europe.

It is obvious that repressive regimes have proliferated from the beginnings of the modern state. In archives throughout the world there are documents which prove this. The subject of this study - archives of more recent repressive regimes - thus has an enormous social and political importance. Such archives, which were essential for carrying out repressive activities, are converted under the new political regime (which brings the liberties and responsibilities conferred by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) into an important means for enabling new social relationships to be established. In this sense, the boomerang effect shown by the documents which survive is both atypical and unique, and requires, from the professional point of view, careful thought on the management of archival fonds. At the same time it brings a totally new responsibility for archival institutions.

Archives have a decisive influence on the lives of people. Nothing serves as a better example of this than the way in which documents are used to serve the ends of repression. The image of archives of security services in repressive regimes clearly illustrate how important they are. During the lives of such regimes, the victims of the political information services may sense the importance of the archives, but it is only with the arrival of democracy and the opening up of the sources, that citizens become fully aware of their influence in the lives of people.

The major role played by archives is characterised not only by their function as the keys to our recent past, but also by their administrative value in the exercise of individual rights. This is illustrated when the democratic regime wishes, for example to deal with amnesty for political crimes, or indemnity for the victims of repression or their families. The German and Spanish experiences illustrate this well. There is no doubt that the historical dimension is of enormous importance, but the social repercussions which archives can have give them a public role of the highest importance. Amongst the best known of Spanish archives is without doubt the Civil War Section of the National Historical Archive in Salamanca, which has provided tens of thousands of certificates to citizens who were once members of the armies and security bodies of the Republic or the Republic’s administration and who were later victims of the Francoist repression. Another important example are the Archives of the former Stasi in Berlin.

3.    GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1.    Reasons for preserving the documentary sources for the study of repression

The first point in every debate about the archives of the former State security institutions, in countries in the process of transition to democracy, is whether or not to keep them. All later discussions on their archival treatment, on their use by the citizens and the new administration, or on the professional ethics concerning their content, depend on the answer to this first question.

There are examples of countries where all types of archives of the security services produced by the pre democracy regimes have been kept in almost unabridged form. There are also examples of the opposite, where no written testimony to the repression remains, or at least, no one knows of its existence. The middle way is where countries make initial use of the documents for administrative purposes and then destroy them for ethical reasons.

An example of the second type, in Spanish speaking South America, is Chile. No documents of the primary repressive institutions of the military dictatorship, whose principal exponents were DINA and their heirs CNI are now known to exist. Thus, at the beginning of the process of transition, when there was an obvious need to know the truth about political violence, the disappearances and the assassinations of the Pinochet regime, was a tremendous obstacle was caused by the lack of documentary proof. The Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, a pioneer body of its kind created in 1990, was faced with the task of reconstructing 15 years of the country’s history almost exclusively from personal testimonies, based on oral or written memories of those involved. The Commission, which sought to increase awareness of the excesses of the former regime, has not been able to throw light on the fate of many of the disappeared or on those responsible for the atrocities. The Chilean experience is enlightening: those who had most to lose by the disappearance of the documents were the Chilean people and those with most to gain were the agents of the repression and those most responsible for it. What is certain is that the Chilean route to democracy has been through reconciliation, and that the possibility of discovering the names of those responsible has to a large extent disappeared.

A similar case can be found in South Africa, where the National Intelligence Agency continues to be the institution responsible for the documents produced by itself in the past.

In Spain, one of the documentary sources whose whereabouts are unknown (if they have not been destroyed) is that of the SD of the Presidency of the Government under the control of Colonel San Martin, who worked with the intelligence services in the last years of the dictatorship.

The Chilean case is not exceptional. In Africa, in the period 1979-1980 the Rhodesian government destroyed documents produced by the four most important and specialist security organisations in the last years of the repressive regime: the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Police Special Branch, the Special Courts and the army unit known as the Selous Scouts.

The succession in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), after the fall of the Berlin Wall and re-unification, is an example of the opposite type. If the archives of the Stasi have not been kept in their entirety, at least the vast majority have been. This has been possible above all because of the determination of the German people that they should be preserved, as they were aware from the outset of their importance. In this way, by immediately passing the archives of the Stasi into the hands of the new authorities, it has been possible to follow the wishes of the representatives of the people, and, amongst other things, to purge those responsible for repression from the new administration. Archives were used both to purge those responsible and to compensate the victims of repression. Parallel legal proceedings have been exemplary. These have resulted in two laws: one in the GDR before unification and the definitive one in the united Germany. The people were the main protagonists in this. Perhaps Germans remember the use made of the archives of the Nazis at the end of the Second World War. Their primary use, it should be remembered, was by the judges at Nuremberg. On that occasion, it was not the German people which was the principal protagonists in the process, but the Allied military forces.

Between these two sets of experiences lies that of Greece, which used the documents of repressive bodies in the years immediately after the dictatorship for administrative tasks such as compensation and purging those responsible for repression. The archives were later destroyed, in accordance with new legislation which judged it undesirable to keep references, in registries and public archives, to people who had been vindicated for activities or attitudes considered illegal in the previous regime. Though it enabled the purging of those responsible and the compensation of their victims, Greece has been left with no written history of the repression, preventing possible new ways of compensation. This solution has enabled a line to be drawn under the period of the Dictatorship and the Colonels, but Greece’s historical and documentary heritage has not been taken into consideration.

In Spain there was discussion whether to destroy files in the police archives which threw light on the political, trade union or ideological background of those considered disaffected by the Franco regime. As a result of an anecdotal event (the detention at Madrid airport of the communist deputy Enrique Curiel, because he was mentioned in police computer records as a clandestine activist), the Spanish Parliament debated a proposal to destroy these files. As a result, a decision was taken to annul the files on politico-social activities which had been in existence since the days of the former regime, and held in the police registries, while at the same time to transfer all files of a political nature held in the police archives, to the National Historical Archive. This was achieved by the Minister of the Interior, who was responsible for the Police Central Archive, and the Minister of Culture, who was responsible for the National Historical Archive, both signing a prescriptive agreement. In this way, an irreplaceable documentary collection for the study of opposition social movements during the 40 years of the Franco regime was preserved.

Archives are the most faithful reflection of the history of a people and thus constitute the most explicit memory of nations. This is unquestionably so in the case of totalitarian, dictatorial or repressive regimes. In such regimes there is a lack of any legal means of reflecting a plurality of ideas and behaviour. It is only the archives, particularly those of the police and intelligence services which controlled the population, which can reflect the social confrontations inherent in these regimes. In contrast to the public image which such regimes have tried to present, their real nature can be discovered in the files and indices of the security services. The existence of important police archives is a common characteristic of all such regimes. The repressive apparatus was generally very large and sustained by an important documentary framework. Through this, information on individuals and groups was gathered on an almost daily basis. This was in many cases the only way the regime could guarantee its power.

In all countries which have survived periods of political repression, enormous interest has been generated in the archives of this repression. From historians to journalists there has been a legitimate desire to know about the repression in great depth. It has been necessary to meet these demands with legal guarantees that the judicial process would not be interfered with, while at the same time protecting the privacy of the victims of the repression.

The argument in favour of preserving these documents appears clear. However, there remains an important doubt concerning the possible re-use of the documents for repressive ends. When there is no certainty that the documents have been destroyed or passed to authorities clearly distinct from those of the former regime, it has to be accepted that they could again be used against human rights. In the hypothetical case of a return to a repressive regime, the documents could be used for unsavoury ends. In all cases, it is best that documents are placed by law within the framework of a democratic state and are in the hands of archival professionals.

In conclusion, documents accumulated by the organs of repression are important for the memory of the people, and serve as an irreplaceable testimony. But the most important argument in favour of the preservation of the archives of repression by new democratic states lies in the importance which such documentary sources have for people affected by the former regime, whether as direct or indirect victims. Documents of the repressive period are essential to the exercise of individual rights: amnesty, indemnity, pensions, and general civil rights (inheritance, property...) in the new political situation.



3.2.    The key role of archives in political transition

Depending on the route to democracy that was followed, a number of alternatives face the archives of security services of repressive regimes. The way in which the repressive regime was dissolved determines to a great extent the future of its archives. In the processes of ‘negotiated change’ or of ‘national reconciliation’ arguments for compensation of victims ought to take precedence over all others. In some cases they should even take precedence over demands for the names of those responsible which should be disallowed by means of the so-called ‘punto final laws’, in the name of supposed benefit of social peace. In the case of revolutionary disruption or of the rapid collapse of the system, the first demand should be for those responsible. In this case the tasks of the archivist are much easier, because the collapse of the system requires new planning, and changes in routines and persons. However, in situations where democratic processes had already been initiated within the repressive regime, perhaps at the end of a long evolutionary process, a series of difficult obstacles always remains. This occurs for example where individuals from the previous regime continue in positions of responsibility, whether or not they were active in the process of repression,.

As already noted, no two cases of transition are exactly alike, but two alternatives may be considered as illustrations; the German case with the Stasi archives and the Spanish case with the archives of the repressive institutions of the Franco period. These were completely different types of transition with different starting points. The German case resulted from the total collapse of the regime and the other resulted from a long period of transition which was initiated from within the Franco regime itself and avoiding a complete break with ‘legality’.

In the process of political transition, archives are an essential means of enforcing collective and individual rights. The success of methods of reparation and compensation of victims of repression, as well as the removal of those responsible in the former regime, will be to a great extent conditioned by the use of the documents of repressive institutions. Support for their preservation and the creation of institutions with responsibility for their custody in the new political state are determining factors in the process of consolidating democracy. Among the fundamental functions of archives in consolidating both collective and individual rights are the following:

3.2.1.    Collective Rights

1    The right of peoples and nations to choose their own path to political transition will be seriously affected by the availability of documents. Without archives their choice may not be properly made. Truth Commissions, as shown in Poland, Chile or South Africa, are only able to complete their work satisfactorily if institutional documentary sources of the repression survive.

In the German case, the public recognised the importance of the Stasi archives both for planning the future and for understanding how the past had been conditioned by the actions of the information services. This attitude was largely influenced by the way the Nazi archives were managed after the Second World War, when the importance of collecting and preserving them at the Contemporary Documentation Centre in Berlin was seen.



2    The right of the people to the integrity of their written memory ought to be unquestioned. If a community chooses to pardon as a means of achieving political transition, this must not result in the disappearance of the documentary heritage of the past. Nations have both a right and an obligation to preserve their memory by depositing it in their archives. Although one generation should be free to decide on the political processes for which they are responsible, they cannot choose for other generations: The right to choose the path to political transition precludes the right to destroy documents.

3    The right to truth. Intimately linked to the above two rights, citizens have the right to the fullest possible information on the actions of previous regimes. This is the basis on which the so-called Commissions of Truth, such as the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in Chile, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa or the Supreme Commission on the Research of the Crimes against the Polish Nation in Poland, all work.

   The right to identify those responsible for crimes against human rights. The right to identify the agents of repression ought to be considered independently of any political decision concerning those responsible, or their possible continuation as public servants. The policy of amnesty or pardon for officials responsible for violations of human rights has been adopted by various countries in the process of transition to democracy, with the aim of promoting national reconciliation. However, in a democracy, the people have the right to know the names of officials responsible for human rights violations in the former regimes in order to ensure they are not politically promoted. The German legislation already mentioned regulates how this is to be carried out. The Stasi Records Act permits public or private institutions to investigate authorities, public personalities and citizens’ representatives for possible links with the former repressive machinery. The scope of investigation is limited to avoiding the possible remaining in power of agents and collaborators of the Ministry of the Interior through ignorance. On the other hand, the legislation limits the exercise of this right when those being investigated were less than eighteen years old at the time the supposed offences took place. Equally, there is a time limit on investigation of fifteen years from the promulgation of the law (until 2006).

 3.2.2.    Individual rights



1    The right to discover the fate of relatives who disappeared during the period of repression. One of the worst effects of repression is ignorance of the fate of relatives or friends who have disappeared. The archives of repression must permit the investigation and, if possible, clarification of such cases.

2    The right to know what information on individuals is held in the archives of the repression: known as ‘habeas data’, this guarantees the right to know whether any information on an individual was held in the police or intelligence services of the former repressive regime, and to evaluate in what way the individual’s personal, family or professional life may have been influenced by political, ideological, ethnic or racial prejudice. The same right must also be applied on behalf of the agents and employees of institutions of the repressive regime.

3    The right to historical and scholarly research: all citizens have a right of access to the sources for the study of their nation’s history. Access to such documents must take into account the need to protect the victims of repression. Appropriate measures must be taken to protect third parties mentioned in the documents.

4    The right to amnesty for prisoners and political reprisals: in every process of transition towards democracy, those condemned by tribunals or dismissed from their jobs for purely political, religious, ethical or racial reasons, should be freed, reinstated in their jobs or compensated. Frequently, it is only among the archives of the former repressive regimes that proof can be found of the political, religious, ethnic or racial nature of the tribunals or of those dismissed.

5    The right to compensation and reparation for damage suffered by the victims of repression. When the authorities of a new democratic regime decide to offer compensation to victims of repression, documents produced by institutions of the former regime will provide them with the necessary evidence.

6    The right to restitution of confiscated goods. When citizens of the newly democratic state have a legal right to the return of personal goods, confiscated by the previous regime on account of their beliefs or ideology, documents in the archives of the repression will give details of such goods as well as information on their location or destination. If restitution is not possible because the goods have disappeared or because they have new, legitimate owners, the archives will show that there is a right to proper compensation.

3.2.3.    The necessity to submit archives of the repression to the law


 
In the process of political transition, the legislator has to take account of archives and the instrumental role they have in establishing new legislation. The Spanish example shows how the practical application of legislation on amnesty, indemnities and compensation, is intimately connected to the documentary evidence which enables the laws to be applied. In the process immediately following the end of the repressive regime, archivists must take into account the legislation and also take account of the changes as they happen, in order to ensure that rights are made viable in the new situation.

The relevant archival organisations must be involved in the drawing up of legislation and in ensuring that collective or individual rights are safeguarded by the following legal means:

1.    Records produced or accumulated by former repressive bodies must be placed under the control of the new democratic authorities at the earliest opportunity and these authorities must assess the holdings in detail. The democratic authorities should create commissions responsible for the management of these holdings and archivists must be closely involved in the work of the commissions. The commissions should also take responsibility for the archives of the intelligence services which continue under the new regime. The commissions should select files which the police, security or intelligence bodies no longer need to keep. The security bodies must ensure the transfer of selected files and documents either to the national archives, to the institutions dealing with compensation or reparation for victims of the repression and purging of former officials, or to the Truth Commissions.

2.    Documents of former repressive bodies must be kept in archival institutions within the national archival systems or in institutions established for identifying former officials, compensating victims of repression or ensuring collective and individual rights. The German and Portuguese models are more advantageous than the systems established in Spain. The high number of requests could lead to the collapse of conventional activities in traditional archives, which are generally not well provided with budgets or personnel. Therefore, a temporary institution assuming these responsibilities should be created with staff specially assigned to its specific tasks. This will improve the quality of the services provided, while enabling regular archives to fulfil their traditional mandate. The fact that these institutions are temporary must be clearly stated. The ultimate location of the documents, as part of the collective memory, must be the national repository for historical records.

3.    It may be necessary to establish special legislation to protect the documents of former repressive organisations as cultural property. If legislation protecting the cultural patrimony already exists, the documents ought to be covered by it. If there are regulations covering the preservation of the documentary heritage in archival institutions, the transfer of the records to these institutions will ensure that they become protected cultural property. In some cases, the character of the documents as cultural property must be clearly defined.

4.    Archival legislation and regulations guaranteeing the rights of individuals must be developed. These ought to include :



  • the right of free access to the archives to obtain information on the existence, or otherwise of personal information in whatever form, providing always that the privacy of third parties is guaranteed.

  • the right, for those who have not been in the service of repressive organisations, to determine whether records containing personal information can be consulted by third parties. Personal files of victims of repression should be closed to public access for a legally established period, except with the special permission of the individuals concerned or their heirs. Individuals should have the opportunity to make corrections or declarations about the information held about them in personal files. This should be incorporated into the files, but clearly separated from the documents kept by the repressive regime, which should not be modified.

  • the right to obtain files of the agents of repression, with guarantees of security, established by the legislation

3.2.4.    The necessity of divulging information about the archives of repressive regimes

The culmination of the process is the compilation of a full report, giving details of the rights established by the new State, as well as the diffusion of the archives and institutions concerned. Not only the relevant institutions of public administration should be involved but all those affected should be invited to participate: political parties, trade unions, religious bodies, foundations and human rights organisations. It is also essential to involve the media, principally radio and television.

3.2.5.    The necessity for archivists in charge of documents of repression to adopt a Code of Ethics
 
Drawing up a Code of Ethics may be of great help when reflecting on the management of the records discussed in this report. Archives charged with the custody of these records must establish such codes. It is particularly important that archival staff who have continued in service from the former regime, expressly agree to the principles. The Code of Ethics should include the following points:


  • the documents of repression are part of the patrimony of the people. They must be preserved in their integrity, serving as a memento of intolerance, racism and political totalitarianism.

  • archivists are the executors of the will of the people during periods of transition.

  • the individual rights of victims of political repression take precedence over historical investigation.

  • the archive should not dispose of any document through selection criteria based on its value for historical research.

  • archivists are not censors. The law determines which documents are to be made available and how.

  • if the legislation is not sufficiently detailed, archivists may interpret it in the light of legal advice from experts in administrative law. In cases where individual privacy and the right to historical investigation are opposed, a solution may be provided by the use of reproductions of the original documents with names of victims or third parties deleted.

  • archivists must handle with the utmost care all requests for certification or validation of photocopies used in order to validate the claims of victims of repression or of other individuals.

  • archivists must establish controls necessary to protect documents containing sensitive information. Documents of repression should be kept within the general archives, but in separate strongrooms with special security. Only archive personnel should have access to these documents.

  • archivists must limit the use of automated databases relating to victims of the repression to what is necessary for the exercise of ‘habeas data’. These databases should only be used as finding aids. No other administrative or governmental use of them should be authorised.


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