Guatemala: Archives on Decades of Police Terror Accessible Online

“Millions of documents from the Guatemalan national police archive, shedding light on torture, forced disappearances and murders committed during the1960-1996 counterinsurgency war in this country, are now available on-line thanks to a collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin.”

An article by Danilo Valladares, originally on Inter Press Service, was posted on the Global Issues website and talks about a new initiative which is making available, on-line, documents found in the police archives in Guatemala. The story of the archives is described:
“In July 2005, the Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos – the office of Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman — found the abandoned documents by accident in an abandoned munitions depot on the north side of Guatemala City. The messy bundles of records were stacked floor to ceiling in dozens of rooms infested by rats, bats and cockroaches, and many of the files were in an advanced state of decay.

The administrative police records, which date from 1882 to 1997, document the repressive role played by the police during the 36-year armed conflict between leftist insurgents and government forces, which left a death toll of 250,000.”

GSN has featured the archives and the excellent film, La Isla, made about the archives by Uli Stelzner.

The article goes on to say that “The archive includes arrest warrants, surveillance reports, identification documents, interrogation records, snapshots of detainees and informants, and of unidentified bodies, fingerprint files, transcripts of radio communications, ledgers full of photographs and names, as well as more mundane documents like traffic tickets, drivers’ licence applications, invoices for new uniforms and personnel files.

So far, 13 million documents have been cleaned, classified and digitised.”

You can read the article here.

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Categories: Justice

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