Open communist files, says ministry official

MARIÁN Gula, head of the Justice Ministry's office for the documentation of communist crimes, has said that Slovakia is falling behind its post-communist neighbours in dealing with its communist past.

Gula said that communist secret archives should be made accessible to the public as soon as possible. If the files remained classified, Gula said, they could become a tool of blackmail and other forms of abuse.

Two draft laws aimed at making the communist files accessible to the public are now in circulation.

One, prepared by the Justice Ministry, is being studied by the cabinet's legislative advisory body. The second is a proposal by member of parliament Ján Langoš, called the Memory of the Nation.

Gula expained that the ministry's draft is narrower and would provide access only to citizens persecuted by the communist secret service, while the Langoš bill covers the period between 1939-1989, and intends to make secret files accessible not only to victims of persecution but also historians and journalists.

Gula says he prefers the latter proposal because it also aims to establish a special bureau which could be a future incarnation of his Justice Ministry office.

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