Access to Archives in Post-Communist Countries: The Victim’s Perspective

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Abstract

The collapse of the communist regime at the end of the twentieth century resulted in a wave of democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. While trying to establish democracy, many states in this region had to demonstrate their ability to protect human rights and to deal with the past of the repressive regime. As these states decided to join various human rights instruments they also became subject to certain obligations towards their people. One of these obligations is the requirement to provide remedies in case of human rights abuses, and the right to know the truth is recognized as part of it. Therefore the goal of this article is to identify the abilities of the victim of the communist regime to access the files of former secret services in post-communist countries in the light of the right to know the truth. The answer is provided using an analysis of international documents, historic, comparative and systemic methods, providing and evaluating the practice of different states dealing with the files of former secret services or government files of the repressive past and academic literature.

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