Last week, newspapers in the Netherlands made big headlines that by 2025 information about thousands of people investigated and tried for collaborating with the Nazis will be made public. Until now, your data was protected so as not to affect those who were still alive. The consequences of opening these files will be different for the descendants of the victims and those responsible: it will give the former access to information that they may not know; the latter are concerned, they say, that they continue to be stigmatized for the acts committed by their parents or grandparents, and that old wounds that remain unhealed are reopened.
In similar news, the Supreme Court of Spain announced that the lawsuit filed against Google —with unsuccessful results— by the son of the judicial secretary of the Francoist Special Press Court who signed the death sentence of Miguel Hernandez, will serve the judges to study and perfect the jurisprudential precedent of what it calls “the right to digital oblivion”. Last year the National Court rejected the claims of the man, who wants his father to stop appearing in Internet references related to the sentence of the poet. The court’s argument to oppose it was clear: the information that the descendant wants to be withdrawn “has an unquestionable public interest.”
The third piece of news brings together, in some way, the themes of the two previous ones: the journalistic consortium Forbidden Stories (forbidden stories), which recovers and continues investigations that could not be concluded by journalists threatened, imprisoned or assassinated, revealed that the company Eliminalia, based in Barcelona, signed million-dollar contracts with people from various countries involved in crimes or questionable practices, interested in erase your fingerprint. One of them, according to The viewer, is the brother and figurehead of a bloodthirsty Colombian paramilitary chief. His case would be one, just one, among several in which Eliminalia contributed to the disappearance of references to people involved in money laundering by the armed extreme right.
After the reforms to which it was subjected after the victory of the No in the plebiscite of October 2, 2016, which led to the rejection of the version signed by former President Juan Manuel Santos and the extinct FARC in Cartagena de Indias a week before, The Peace Agreement stipulates that what it calls “civilian third parties” —people who do not belong to any of the contending groups, but who collaborated in some way with their actions, such as businessmen, peasants, mayors, among others— can submit to the JEP and collaborate with the System, but voluntarily. This voluntary nature extends to former presidents and other officials who enjoy constitutional jurisdiction that eliminates any possibility of their being called to appear before the JEP for events related to the conflict, unless they themselves request —in a very unlikely manner— that this Jurisdiction know their case, after having been prosecuted in the Supreme Court of Justice, which would be the competition court.
According to data from the JEP, as of February 17 of this year, 9,840 former members of the FARC, 3,558 from the public force, 95 different State agents from the public force and only 71 civilian third parties signed acts of commitment and submission to that Jurisdiction. Although some names are known; in other cases there is strong evidence of their responsibility, but justice has been ineffective; or of others there are well-founded suspicions, many civil third parties, with or without jurisdiction, continue without being investigated. The impunity they enjoy and the silence in which they remain is a victory for them and a defeat for justice.
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In several public and private recognition events promoted by the Truth Commission, or in JEP hearings, the victims have demanded —with their pain still alive, no matter how many years have passed— that those involved on all sides accept their responsibility. without half measures, really tell the whole truth, and give the names of those who ordered the crimes and their collaborators. The demand for truth is pressing and it is a right, above all, of them; but the whole society has a right to know.
If the full identity of those responsible is kept secret, as is the claim of the descendants of the perpetrators and collaborators of World War II and the Spanish Civil War, as well as the front men of the paramilitaries who paid Eliminalia to erase their footprint, the right of the victims and society to the truth, and historical memory would be at serious risk. Knowing what happened, why it happened and who did it, among many other questions, is necessary to deliver justice and repair the injuries inflicted to the extent possible. Knowing the past of the war and identifying those who participated in it —including civilians— is crucial to building, in the present, the conditions so that there are no more victims in the future, so that cruelty is not repeated. It is and should also be —as the National Court of Spain said—, a matter of public interest. It is, neither more nor less, an important part of the fight of truth against oblivion.