By J. Brock (FINN)
After agreeing to do so, two MLAs have met with five representatives of a human rights group from Chaco, Argentina in order to listen to their views on a number of issues resulting from the 1982 war.
MLAs Dick Sawle and Mike Summers attended the meeting following a request from the group made directly to the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly. Three regional Argentine politicians with specific responsibilities for human rights in the Chaco region attended the meeting, along with the Chairman and Secretary of the human rights group. The Falkland Islands are a modern democracy, and we uphold fundamental values such as freedom of speech and human rights, said MLA Sawle. He went on to say that on humanitarian grounds, it was only right that we should listen to the views of this group who are actively involved in investigating the cases of abuse of many Argentine veterans who suffered greatly at the hands of their own officers during the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982.
However, whilst we may listen to their views on a variety of issues, on the specific issue of DNA testing we have made it very clear that we can only consider any practical action if and when we receive a request from the International Red Cross which must have the full and unequivocal support of the Families Commission in Argentina, he concluded.
It is notable that an Argentine group such as this recognise the legitimate and democratically elected Government of the Falkland Islands, and should request this meeting, said MLA Summers. We made it clear to the group that all peoples, including Falkland Islanders, have human rights, and that the current approach of the Argentine Government is unhelpful in achieving any co-operation, he continued. He went on to say that the wishes of families are important, but the political context will be a determining factor.