Creation and Organization of
the National Commission on the Disappeared
(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Other aspects of the work undertaken by the National Commission on the Disappeared
1. From the outset the National Commission held weekly plenary sessions which began around 10 a.m. and went on without interruption until late in the afternoon or until the agenda had been dealt with. The Executive Committee met almost every day.
The Commission made continual statements to the press and received numerous individuals and delegations from both Argentina and abroad. Most significant among these were: Edmundo Vargas Carreño, Executive Secretary of the OAS Human Rights Commission: Juan E. Méndez, Director of Americas Watch based in Washington, Martín Pérez from the Pro-Human Rights Association in Spain; Rafael de Campagnola, Counsellor in the Italian Embassy; European and Israeli parliamentarians, Jorge Santistevan, Director of the UN High Commission on Refugees, and Dr José Figueres, ex-President of Costa Rica.
The National Commission also met with members of the West German Ecology Party; the Dutch, Swedish and West German Ambassadors; M. Antoine Blanca, the French Ambassador; members of the Italian parliament; the Association of Buenos Aires Lawyers; the Argentine Federation of Lawyers; Ambassador H. Solari Yrigoyen; Senators Adolfo Gass and Antonio Berhongaray, members of parliament Adam Pedrini, Augusto Conte, Cesar Jaroslavsky, and Jorge Reynaldo Vanossi; Colonel Jaime Cesio; the heads of the International Secretariat of jurists for Amnesty in Uruguay; members of the Jewish organization DAIA; Nobel Prize-winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; Elsa Kelly, Minister of State at the Foreign Office; a delegation of Senators from Buenos Aires province, and innumerable other representatives of national and international public opinion. All these people offered their support for the work of the Commission.
2. The Commission also invited to Argentina members of the Committee for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Their contribution in terms of research into matters of interest to human rights organizations, and particularly to this Commission, was invaluable. The members of the Commission were: Dr Lowell Levine, Dr Lesli Lukash, Dr Marie-Claire King, Dr Clyde Snow and Dr Luke Tedeschi, who were accompanied by Dr Cristian Orrego and Mr Eric Stover.
They took part in a symposium during which they explained the latest advances in genetic analysis to help determine biological links. This could help identify the children of disappeared parents. They also advised our authorities on the scientific possibilities of determining the cause of death from examining a person's remains. They offered their assistance to the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. In addition, they accompanied the Commission's delegations to Córdoba, Mar del Plata and La Plata on specific missions.
3. The Commission asked the National Executive to make Argentine Embassies and Consulates abroad available for exiles to present their depositions and evidence. This they did. We would like to mention here one particular gesture by the President. We made the request to the National Executive on 10 January 1984. Late in the afternoon that very same day we received a personal note from the President with a copy of his instructions. to all Argentine missions abroad.
4. The Commission sent a representative to the session of the UN Working Group on the Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance of Persons held in June 1984 in New York, and to the International Committee on Human Rights in Geneva. On both occasions the delegate was Rabbi Marshall Meyer.
5. In January 1984, without intending to pre-judge the conduct of any one individual, the Commission decided to request that the appropriate State authorities adopt precautionary measures to ensure that certain individuals, whose testimonies would aid the investigations of either the Commission or the courts, remain in the country in case they be called on to testify.
6. The Commission created branches in Bahía Blanca, Mar del Plata, Córdoba, Rosario and Santa Fe, and another small office in Resistencia, Chaco province.
7. It arranged for members of the Commission to visit the interior of the country to organize centres for receiving depositions and evidence. For this, four work zones were created: The Coast, the Centre, the North and the South.
8. It agreed on a data processing method with CUPED (Centre for Electronic Data Processing) and installed the appropriate terminals, provided free of charge by IBM.
9. It decided to photocopy or microfilm all the documents gathered to date and keep them in safes in official banks.
10. It worked in conjunction with organizations such as the International Red Cross, the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights for the Province of Buenos Aires, the Vicariate of Solidarity in Chile, etc., and contacted organizations like the United Nations, UNESCO, Amnesty International, CLAMOR, the international Commission of Jurists, the International Association of Democratic Jurists, and other no less important bodies.
11. It set out its own internal rules and designated a four-person Executive Committee to deal with everyday matters.
12. It arranged for Committee members, parliamentarians Piucill and Huarte, and Heads of Departments Meijide and Mansur to travel to various countries in America and Europe to collect valuable evidence-the Commission did not yet have. These delegations were entirely successful.
13. As spokesman for the Commission, its President Ernesto Sabato gave over 100 press, radio and television interviews, both in Argentina and abroad.
14. More than thirty press conferences were held on both specific and general questions, many with the participation of witnesses and released prisoners.
15. It produced the television documentary 'Never Again'.
16. Sixty press communiqués were issued on the state of the different investigations. The Commission members on special missions gave press conferences in the places they visited to organize branches in the interior.