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Guatemala panel to declassify documents on civil war-era rights abuses

[JURIST] Guatemala [JURIST news archive] on Monday announced plans to declassify documents describing human rights abuses committed by its military during the country's 1960-1996 civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom [personal website; BBC profile] has created a panel to review the documents, which the military has thus far refused to release, with a view to selecting those that should be made public. The panel will initially focus on documents produced between 1979 and 1983, the harshest years of the conflict, while protecting any documents that compromise national security.

The Guatemalan civil war resulted in over 200,000 deaths, mostly among Guatemala's large indigenous population. According to a UN report released in 1999, the military was responsible for 95 percent of those deaths. Although courts in Spain [JURIST report; CJA case backgrounder] and the United States [CCR case backgrounder] have sought to hold Guatemalan military officials accountable for human rights violations, a 2001 report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] concluded that the domestic judicial system was characterized by impunity [text]. AP has more. Prensa Libre has additional coverage [in Spanish].

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