Emmanuel Macron will allow access to classified national defense documents from more than 50 years ago, covering France’s war in Algeria and other files previously considered to contain state secrets.
The Elysee said the move, a week after the admission that French troops tortured and killed Algerian independence activist Ali Boumendjel in 1957, sought to balance “historical truth” with legitimate “national defense issues.”
A recommendation to leave the secret défenI know The classification of documents for the years up to 1970, particularly those related to the French colonization and the Algerian conflict, was a key element in a recent report by historian Benjamin Stora commissioned by the president.
Stora highlighted the need for France to “face its history” and also suggested the creation of a “truth and memory” commission to reconcile “the two shores of the Mediterranean”.
The declassification, which should be incorporated into legislation that is expected to be passed before the summer, has also been welcomed by the families of the passengers who died aboard an Air France flight from Ajaccio in Corsica to Nice on September 11. from 1968.
Activists believe that a French Navy ship mistakenly shot down the Caravelle plane over the Mediterranean during a military exercise. However, all attempts to obtain official documents of the time have been thwarted by the secret défenI know classification.
In 2019, on the 51st anniversary of the accident, Margaret O’Connor, whose father, Arthur, was among the 94 people who died, said tragedy haunted her family every year. “It’s like a splinter that never goes away,” he said. “We think we know anyway, but we need to hear it. We don’t understand how they can keep it a secret after 51 years. “
Matthew Paoli, 76, one of three siblings who were orphaned when they lost their mother, Toussainte, 59, and father, Ange-Marie, 60, in the accident, said Wednesday that he hoped the publication of Classified documents will eventually shed light on the incident. . He said Macron’s initiative could “respond to the torment that has haunted us for decades.”
“It’s been a long wait,” said Paoli. “We understand that the Caravelle file should be among those being declassified, but we will have to see if all the information is actually in the documents and they have not been redacted. I hope this is good news and that we know the truth in time for this year’s anniversary. If we don’t, we have to continue the fight, ”he said.
Attorneys for the Carvavelle families said opening the files was good news. “For years the two investigating judges responsible for the case have fought in vain to obtain documents that were allegedly classified as defense secrets”, Paul Sollano, lawyer for the campaign association of families. “It is possible that we will also discover elements that we did not know previously.”
In an open letter to Le Monde two months ago, a group of French archivists and historians complained about the “systematic application” of refusals to their demands for official documents, considering them classified as national defense.
“Being blocked from access to documents in this way for months, and sometimes years, has hampered work on some of the most sensitive episodes of our recent past, be it the occupation, the colonial wars or the history of the fourth republic and the beginning of the fifth, ”they wrote.
18,000 people signed a petition calling for an end to “unacceptable restrictions” on access to archives. The activists said the criteria for deciding whether a document should be declassified were vague and “open the way for arbitrary management of access to the national archives.”
A statement from the Elysee announcing the declassification of archives of more than 50 years said: “It is the responsibility of the State to articulate in a balanced way the freedom of access to archives and the fair protection of the superior interests of the nation through the secrecy of defense. .
“Determined to promote respect for historical truth, the president of the republic has listened to the demands of the academic community to facilitate access to classified files that are over 50 years old.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism