Argentina demanded that the United Kingdom “stop delaying the decision on humanitarian action” for the identification of fallen soldiers buried on the Malvinas Islands (which the UK refers to as the Falkland Islands, although Argentina strongly contests this name).
The UK’s decision would fall within the framework of the Humanitarian Project Plan (HPP), a program to identify Argentine soldiers buried in the Darwin Cemetery, the third phase of which was scheduled to be signed last year.
“The illegitimate authorities of the Islands would not agree, but we consider that in humanitarian matters, whether or not governments or inhabitants agree or disagree should not be an impediment because there is an international obligation here”, said Guillermo Carmona, the Secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica, and South Atlantic.
He told Télam that the request was sent as a formal note on Wednesday addressed to the British government through the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Negotiations for the Malvinas HPP began in 2012 under the government of then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In 2015 the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) opened negotiations and acted as an intermediary between Argentina and the United Kingdom, leading to a bilateral agreement to identify the unknown soldiers buried in the islands.
The first part of the project ended in 2016 with a report filed by the ICRC to both countries in 2017. A second joint investigation was negotiated and the ensuing report was published in 2021, under President Alberto Fernández’s administration. Through the two first phases, 120 soldiers have been identified by comparing their DNA profiles with the families sampled by the Argentine Anthropological Forensics Team (EAAF).
Negotiations for a third stage — which was scheduled to be signed on December 16, 2022 — have yet to be finalized in a new context where Argentina has withdrawn from the Foradori-Duncan treaty. It was signed in 2016 to “improve the bilateral relations” and, controversially for Argentina, “remove the obstacles that delayed the development of the Malvinas islands.”
President Fernández described it as a “shameful pact” in a speech on the war’s anniversary last week, contending that his government “undid the Foradori-Duncan agreement little by little” and now “it doesn’t exist anymore”.
The Argentine government is also awaiting a response to its proposal for the relatives of fallen soldiers to visit the Darwin Cemetery and the San Carlos Strait to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Isla de los Estados ship. Argentina initially pushed for the initiative in 2022.
Carmona said that humanitarian issues “cannot be used as a bargaining chip or as leverage,” so his office is working together with the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to obtain DNA samples for the recognition process.
—Télam / Buenos Aires Herald