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France opens secret archives from Algeria's war of independence

By David Coffey with RFI
Algeria  Jacques Landry  AFP
DEC 23, 2021 LISTEN
© Jacques Landry / AFP

France has opened its judicial and police archives relating to court cases and investigations into Algeria's war against French colonisation – 15 years earlier than planned. 

Thursday's announcement from the Ministry of Culture involves opening all "public archives produced in the context of cases relating to acts committed in connection with the Algerian war between 1 November 1954 and 31 December 1966". 

This includes "documents relating to cases brought before the courts and the execution of court decisions" and "documents relating to investigations carried out by the judicial police".

All of the archives, held in France and overseas are by right non-consultable for 75 years, unless an exemption is obtained.

 

Shedding light on the grey areas of France's history 

For the past 20 years, successive French governments have facilitated access to records relating to sensitive periods of the country's history, namely the Second World War and the Nazi Occupation, then the end of France's colonial Empire after the war.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised to help historians shed light on the grey areas of France's actions in Algeria, from the start of the uprising in 1954 until independence in 1962.

In September 2018, Macron acknowledged that the disappearance of the mathematician and communist activist Maurice Audin in 1957, was the work of the French army and opened the archives on that case.

In March of this year, he announced a simplification of the procedure for accessing classified archives more than 50 years old by special request.

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