Argentina, Truth Commissions

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Argentina, Truth Commissions

The National Commission on the Disappeared (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas, or CONADEP) was an Argentine truth commission created by the democratically elected government of President Raúl Alfonsín in 1983. Its main aim was to investigate the violations of human rights committed by the Argentine military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. The commission published its final report, Nunca más (Never again), in 1984 and it was used as key evidence in subsequent trials, including the Trial of the Juntas in 1985.

The dictatorship systemically kidnapped, tortured, and killed between 10,000 and 30,000 Argentine citizens. These killings were not random but carefully planned at the upper levels of the military government. The words desaparecer and desaparecidos ("to disappear" and "the disappeared") became euphemisms for state-sanctioned assassinations of actual and perceived enemies of the dictatorship. The victims were usually confined in concentrations camps, tortured, eventually executed, and often thrown from military airplanes into the Atlantic Ocean.

The commission gathered files, interviewed the actors, and inspected many of the approximately 340 concentrations camps. It documented 8,960 disappeared citizens but stated that the actual number of victims was certainly higher. It also documented systematic kidnappings and torture of adults and children as well as the fact that many babies were kidnapped with their parents or were born in concentration camps to pregnant prisoners and later "given" to military families. After consulting more than fifty thousand pages of documentary evidence, including thousands of testimonies, the published report concluded that the military engaged in an "organic violation of human rights by the state" (Nunca más, p. 8 [author translation]).

See alsoAlfonsín, Raúl Ricardo; Dirty War; Truth Commissions.


Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas. Nunca más. Buenos Aires: EUDEBA, 1984.

Hayner, Priscilla. Unspeakable Truths: Facing the Challenge of Truth Commissions. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Vezzetti, Hugo. Pasado y presente: Guerra, dictadura y sociedad en la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2002.

                                    Federico Finchelstein

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Argentina, Truth Commissions

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