(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
F. Death as a Political Weapon: Extermination
In the course of our work we have frequently had to confront the subject of death: death as a result of torture, electric shock, submersion in water, suffocation; death en masse, collective or individual, premeditated, by drowning at sea or firing squad.
It is a subject which by its very nature deeply disturbs our consciences, not just because of the huge numbers involved, but because of the circumstances surrounding these deaths, which affect the ethical and legal foundations of our civilized society.
The death penalty has traditionally been systematically banned from the legal system in this country. Under the military government this policy was abandoned and it was incorporated into penal legislation. It was argued that it was necessary to prevent the worst subversive crimes.
Even so, there was still an instinctive reluctance to apply the death penalty. It was believed its introduction would discourage anti-social elements from committing the more serious crimes, or that preliminary trials by military courts would reserve its application for exceptional cases. No council of war formally tried anyone who deserved such a terrible punishment.
But the reality was different. There were thousands of deaths, None of these came about through an ordinary or military trial, none was the result of a sentence. Technically speaking, they were murders, murders into which no proper investigation was ever carried out and for which those responsible were never, as far as we know, punished in any way.
To conclude, the regime which considered it necessary to change our legal tradition by introducing capital punishment, never used it as such. Instead, it organized a collective crime, a veritable mass extermination, on which the evidence is now coming to light in the morbid form of hundreds of nameless corpses and the testimony of the survivors, telling of those who died in agony.
It was not an excess of repressive activity, it was not a mistake.
It was the implementation of a cold-blooded decision. There are so many examples and proofs that there can be no doubt about this conclusion.