The world-renowned Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) has announced that it has temporarily halted its work, declaring that the government has stopped providing it with funds.
The internationally recognised team of investigators, which is currently working to identify the remains of fallen Argentine soldiers buried in unmarked graves on a cemetery on the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, said it would have to stop its work with immediate effect, having not received money during 2018. The news sparked uproar among human rights advocates, who immediately rushed to decry the lack of funding. The scientific NGO, known as the Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense in Spanish, has a long-standing reputation across the world, having been involved in a number of high-profile cases including the identification of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s body in Bolivia, the remains of disappeared persons during Argentina’s last military dictatorship (1976-1983), the bodies of those killed in the infamous AMIA Jewish community centre bombing in Buenos Aires and the hunt for the 43 missing Mexican students of Ayotzinapa, among others. In all, the EAAF has worked in more than 30 nations across the world, including sensitive missions in places such as Bosnia, Angola, East Timor, Iraqi Kurdistan and South Africa.
“We have specialised personnel, operating expenses and supplies that must be paid for and we are not in a position to do so without funds [from the government],” the EAAF said in a statement.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper in the UK, EAAF President Luís Fondebrider, said: “This is the first time this has happened to us in our 32 years of existence.”
The interruption of funding “will prevent ongoing work such as the identification of soldiers fallen in the war of the Malvinas Islands, buried at Darwin Cemetery or the search for missing persons of the last civil-military dictatorship and collaboration in cases of feminicide, the trafficking in persons, forced disappearances or complex cases such as the AMIA attack,” Fondebrider said, speaking to local press.
GOVERNMENT STEPS IN
Following criticism in the local and national press, President Mauricio Macri’s government responded on Thursday evening, announcing that “the Ministry of Justice [has] proceeded to authorise the payment of the first installment of the [financial] agreement for 2018.”
The government’s relationship with the EAAF is formalised every year through funding agreements.
“Officials indicate that they will transfer half of the amount agreed in the agreement signed in October,” said Fondebrider yesterday.
Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj confirmed in a statement on Friday that “the agreement we have is still in force,” adding that “payment of the first installment of the bond signed in October was processed yesterday, and all previously agreed payments will be fulfilled.”