N° 149
February 2017
DSC00066 Preserving and dealing with archives of past human rights violations is a central component of a peace process. Archivo Historico de la Policia Nacional de Guatemala (AHPN Guatemala)
swisspeace Lisa Ott lisa.ott@swisspeace.ch Co-Head, Dealing with the Past

swisspeace supports the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia in preparing the investigation files necessary for future dealing with the past processes. The 2016 peace deal includes a truth commission and a special court to process the human rights violations committed during armed conflict, prevent future atrocities, and recognize the rights of the victims. The new institutions will complement the governmental and non-governmental initiatives that are already in place to deal with the past on the national and local level.

The files of the Office of the Attorney General contain information about the crimes committed during the war, which are essential for various activities carried out to deal with the past. These do not just include information on offenders and victims in different regions, but also provide indications regarding the motivation, methods, responsibilities of, and structures within the various actors involved in the conflict, including governmental authorities. Preserving and dealing carefully with these files is therefore a central component of the peace process.

In 2016, swisspeace visited different archives of the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia and provided recommendations for assessing and processing the relevant files. The implementation of this strategy is currently being tested in a pilot project. The biggest challenge lies in the enormous amount of case files generated during the conflict. The fact that these are stored in over a hundred different locations makes things more complicated. Another difficulty lies in qualifying the crimes that will finally be relevant for dealing with the past. In case of doubt, they are qualified as “being connected to the conflict” in order to avoid wrongly excluding any cases.

The provision of the archives by the Office of the Attorney General is a long-term task and must be carefully planned and implemented from the very beginning.

swisspeace Lisa Ott lisa.ott@swisspeace.ch Co-Head, Dealing with the Past