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The United Nations Principles to Combat Impunity: A Commentary edited by Haldemann, Frank; Unger, Thomas (22nd March 2018)

Part II The Right to Know, C Preservation of and Access to Archives Bearing Witness to Violations, Principle 16 Cooperation Between Archive Departments and the Courts and Non-Judicial Commissions of Inquiry

John D Ciorciari

From: The United Nations Principles to Combat Impunity: A Commentary

Edited By: Frank Haldemann, Thomas Unger

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 11 November 2019

Subject(s):
Right to privacy — Right to truth — Collective security — Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Principle 16 stresses the need for cooperation between archive departments and the courts and non-judicial commissions of inquiry. This principle highlights two key challenges of managing archival access: respecting legitimate national security needs and protecting privacy. With respect to national security, the Principle’s requirement of independent judicial review renders it more demanding than the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other major human rights instruments, which merely require that restrictions be prescribed by law are necessary to protect national security or public order. Principle 16’s forward-leaning position draws attention to the fact that national security and public order exemptions are easily abused by states keen to avoid embarrassment or self-incrimination. This chapter first provides a contextual and historical background on Principle 16 before discussing its theoretical framework as well as archival access in practice.

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