French colonial documents declassified

President Macron promises to accelerate the declassification of confidential documents relating to torture by French forces in occupation of Algeria

Photo by Horst Faas for AP.

— 2 minute read — By Derry Salter

French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced his decision to speed up the declassification of documents relating to France’s occupation of Algeria and the consequent war of independence that followed. The measures aim to reconcile France and Algeria by recognising the former’s colonial past and brutal treatment towards the latter. This move follows Macron’s formal recognition in 2018 of the French military’s use of systematic torture during the Algerian war of independence.

Algeria existed under French rule for 132 years until it gained independence in 1962. Macron has reported that the government is working to “significantly reduce the delay” of the process. The documents were previously kept secret for national security purposes. Under French law, all archives should be made available to the public 50 years after their production.

Although the conflict ended nearly six decades ago, relations between the two countries remain strained. Tensions continue to run high with many French citizens drawing comparisons between France’s colonial past and its current lack of integration of immigrants into the country.

Macron plans to attend three commemoration ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Algerian war for independence. Each ceremony is dedicated to a different group that suffered during the conflict.

However, President Macron ruled out issuing an official apology to Algeria. According to his office, there will be “no repentance nor apologies”. It is clear that the French leader will instead solely partake in symbolic acts to reconcile the two countries.