BUENOS AIRES – Children of people accused of committing crimes against humanity under Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime appeared in Congress to present a bill that would alter the penal code to allow them to give evidence against their parents.
The legislation is the initiative of the Disobedient Histories group, formed in mid-2016 by the adult offspring of agents of the junta, whose “dirty war” against the Argentine left claimed some 30,000 lives.
“We presented a bill to modify the criminal code, which has an article that prohibits children and direct relations from reporting crimes and another article that prohibits testifying against a family member,” a member of the group, Lorna Milena, told EFE.
The exceptions advocated by Disobedient Histories would apply only to offenses classified as crimes against humanity, such as forced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial execution.
“We are children of mass murderers. Some of us have information that we want to contribute to prosecutions and there is an obstacle which impedes that,” Milena said, adding that she and the others in her group have lived since childhood under a “pact of silence.”
The current prohibitions in the penal code are at odds with international law, which “mandates that states investigate, try and punish serious crimes against humanity,” Disobedient Histories member Pablo Verna said.
For decades, dirty-war offenders were shielded from prosecution by a pair of amnesty measures passed in the 1990s, but those laws were overturned in 2003, leading to a flood of prosecutions that have resulted in 818 convictions and 99 acquittals.