France to declassify secret archives on Algeria War

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a decision to speed up the declassification of secret documents related to Algeria’s 1954-62 war of independence from France.

The measures come as part of efforts to speed up access for researchers to the documents and as France aims to reconcile with its colonial past.

The French presidency said in a statement that archive services will now be allowed to use a new procedure to declassify documents from 1970 and earlier that were previously being held secret for national security purposes.

Under French laws, almost all archives of the French state, including on defense and security issues, should be made available to the public after 50 years except information that could compromise some people’s security. Yet a complex and long request process was preventing researchers and academics from working on these archives.

In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the 1957 death of a dissident in Algeria, Maurice Audin, admitting for the first time the French military’s use of systematic torture during the war.

Last week, Macron met with four grandchildren of an Algerian independence fighter to tell them that Ali Boumendjel had been tortured and killed by French soldiers in 1957.

Macron also wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war.

Macron also plans to attend three commemoration ceremonies by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of Algeria’s war for independence.

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