France widens access to declassified Algeria war archives to 'include minors'


The French government has made access to its archives from the Algerian war of independence more flexible by authorising the consultation of files involving minors.

The move to broaden the scope of declassified files relating to the Franco-Algerian war of the 1950s and 60s was announced in Sunday's Journal Officiel, and has been long called-for by historians and families.

In December 2021, following announcements made by President Emmanuel Macron the previous March, France opened its legal archives relating to the war, covering the period between 1 November 1954 and 31 December 1966, fifteen years ahead of the legal deadline.

However in practice, access to the declassified documents remained "as difficult as ever" for families and researchers, according to historian Marc André in an article published in Le Monde in November 2022.

'Majority of files closed'

One of the main obstacles was the exclusion of files involving minors – those under the age of 21, due to the legislation in force at the time – which were still subject to the 100-year classification period.

Due to this statutory limitation, coupled with several others obstacles, "the majority of files are closed", the historian noted.

Marc André has pointed out that this relates to a large number of cases, which will therefore remain closed.

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