/** reg.guatemala: 183.0 **/
Truth Commission Asks More of Government
Cerigua Weekly Briefs, No.2, 8 January 1998
Guatemala City, January 8. Lack of cooperation from the army and the government may leave the official version of wartime human rights abuses here full of holes, according to Christian Tomuschat, chair of the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH). It will also reflect badly on these institutions efforts to distance themselves from the nation's ugly past, he told the daily Prensa Libre in an interview this week.
"We need to review the files of the Presidential Military Guard (EMP), the G2 (army intelligence) and the government. To date we have only been allowed to see campaign plans, the annual plans of 1982 and 1983, and almost nothing about the critical years," he said.
The commissioner says the CEH -- popularly known as the Truth Commission -- has strong evidence from victims of human rights violations committed during the civil war to demonstrate the involvement of the army in most of the crimes, but the army and the government have still not been forthcoming about their part in the story.
"The army has the opportunity to cooperate with us and recognize that in the past crimes were committed, and (to show) that they will not get involved with these kinds of actions again.... If they side with what happened 15 years ago, the population will have the impression that they will again commit these acts," he said.
He also called on the government to "demonstrate that it is democratic and respects human rights" by providing information to the commission
According to Tomuschat, the former guerrillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) have been more helpful. "In our first meetings with the URNG, their leaders gave positive signs, and we've received documents from them," he said. "We still haven't touched delicate issues... but we have their solemn promise to discuss everything case by case, an aspect in which the army has been of little help."
Government officials have not taken kindly to Tomuschat's rebuke. Gustavo Porras, the government's representative on the Commission to Accompany the Peace Process, accused him of overstepping his mandate, adding that the government has already provided evidence in 90 of the 150 cases for which it was requested. "You have to remember this was a dirty war, and it's logical that in many cases evidence of the actions executed by either side does not exist," he said.
Tomuschat's colleagues have stood by him. Fellow commissioners Alfredo Balsells Tojo and Otilia Lux de Coti agree that the government through its institutions -- especially the army, the national police and the treasury police -- is not fulfilling its obligations under the peace accords which created the CEH.
"If this cooperation isn't forthcoming, we will definitely have to point it out very clearly in a separate chapter of our report," said Lux, who added that although high level government officials have shown a willingness to cooperate, this hasn't been borne out in practice.
According to Lux, the CEH hopes to finish gathering evidence by the end of next week, and will spend until the end of May analyzing it and preparing their report.
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