|Latin American Initiative for the Identification of the “Disappeared” (LIID)|
|Identification Efforts for the “Disappeared” of Argentina|
|Massive Processing of DNA Samples and Installation of a DNA Laboratory for Human Rights Cases|
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) begins genetic processing on 2,800 blood samples and 600 bone samples to identify Argentine disappeared.
Buenos Aires: On July 3, 2008 the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF) submitted for genetic processing 2,800 blood samples from relatives of people disappeared for political reasons between 1974 and 1983, together with 600 samples from remains thought to correspond to disappeared people. These samples will be analyzed for identification purposes by a US laboratory. The remains were exhumed by EAAF from cemeteries in the province of Buenos Aires, and from the cemetery of San Vicente in the province of Córdoba. EAAF hopes that this effort can provide solace to families of victims, as well as evidence in current prosecutions.
Before the end of 2008, EAAF will ship to the same laboratory 800 additional blood samples from relatives of the disappeared. In November 2007, EAAF launched the collection of samples in Argentina as part of the Latin American Initiative for the Identification of the Disappeared (LIID). EAAF is joined in LIID by the Guatemalan Foundation for Forensic Anthropology, and the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team, who are conducting similar programs in their countries. LIID, by taking advantage of recent upgrades in genetic technology resulting from the need to identify victims of the Balkan War and the World Trade Center terrorist attack, aims to dramatically increase identifications for human rights victims’ remains in the region. The staff at Bode Technology Group - the US laboratory selected by EAAF to conduct the genetic analysis - worked on both these projects. Over nine thousand individuals are estimated to have disappeared during Argentina’s last military dictatorship, lasting from 1976 to 1983.
In November 2007, to bring forth relatives of the disappeared, EAAF began a national campaign using radio, TV and street posters, with the support of local human rights organizations and the Argentine government, as well as the collaboration of journalists, actresses and actors. The campaign is ongoing, and seeks to notify family members of victims of forced disappeared, occurring between 1974 and 1983, of their opportunity to donate blood to try to identify the remains of their loved ones.
The collection of samples throughout the country is being undertaken free of charge at 63 collection centers, in coordination with the Argentine Secretary of Human Rights and the Ministry of Health. Together with these agencies, the team has sought to create a Genetic Bank of Relatives of Disappeared People. The genetic information collected is strictly confidential, and will only be used for identification purposes. The transportation of samples to the US was carried out under the authorization of local courts and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the American Embassy in Buenos Aires.
In June 2008, the campaign was expanded to Spain. The Argentine Embassy in Spain hosted EAAF as a temporary center for the donation of samples from victims’ relatives living in Spain. Similar collections took place in the consulates of Barcelona, Vigo, Cádiz, and Tenerife.
Also as part of LIID, EAAF is setting up its own genetic laboratory in Argentina dedicated to human rights cases that will begin operation in 2009.
EAAF’s work under LIID is supported by a US Congress earmark grant, the Government of Argentina, the Government of Buenos Aires Province, the Government of Córdoba Province, The Open Society Institute, The Oak Foundation, the Interchurch Organization for Development Co-operation, The John Merck Fund, and the Government of Asturias, Spain, among others.
Relatives of victims of forced disappearance between 1974 and 1983 who are interested in the project can call 0800-333-2334, or contact the team’s office in Buenos Aires at firstname.lastname@example.org or (54-11) 4951-8547. Also, the team’s office in Córdoba, Argentina can be reached at (54-11) 433 1058 ext. 309, or (0351) 153555686, and by email at email@example.com. If outside of Argentina, the New York office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 237-2028. Information is available about the team and LIID at http://www.eaaf.org.
LIID Television Spots
EAAF, in conjunction with Grupo KPR, filmed five televisions spots informing Argentines about LIID-EAAF. These advertisements were made possible by the generous donation of time on the part of well known individuals in Argentina, and through the support of the Argentine government.
Víctor Hugo Morales
Magdalena Ruiz Guiñazú