Military rule in Argentina from 1976-1983 was marked by the enforced disappearance of those who opposed the regime. Between 15,000 and 30,000 opponents of the regime are believed to have died. As many as 500 children born in prisons and concentration camps were taken from their mothers at birth and illegally given for adoption.
Raúl Alfonsín, the first democratically elected president after the return to civilian rule, established the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas, CONADEP) shortly after his inauguration in December 1983.
In 1984 CONADEP produced a 50,000-page report, entitled Nunca Más, which contained testimonies of the survivors of disappearance, torture and executions during military rule.
The report documents 8,961 deaths and disappearances from 1976-1977, explains how 300 clandestine detention centers were administered by the military, and reports on the location of mass graves throughout the country.
Immediately after it was established in 1979, the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (La Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos, APDH) reviewed and documented more than 5,000 reports of persons who were forcibly disappeared.
Reports about human rights abuses and enforced disappearances during military rule in Argentina have also been submitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN and Amnesty International as well as to religious organizations.
Project Disappeared brings together diverse human rights organizations and activists engaged in keeping the memory of the disappeared alive and searching for justice.
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) was formed by a group of women trying to discover the fate of their children. The movement grew as the number of disappeared grew, with the mothers organizing demonstrations that attracted national and international attention.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo has focused on locating children stolen and illegally adopted during military rule.
The New York Times reported in October 2011 that by August of that year 105 of the estimated 500 abducted children had been identified.
The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, scientific organization that applies forensic sciences – mainly forensic anthropology and archaeology – to the investigation of human rights violations in Argentina and worldwide. EAAF was established in 1984 to investigate at least 9,000 cases of those who disappeared under military rule. In 2013, a BC report noted that the EAAF had been able to locate and identify somewhere in the region of 600 bodies.
Jorge Videla, who led the military government from 1976 to 1981, was sentenced to life in prison in 1985, and long sentences were handed out to other senior military figures for their role in human rights abuses including murder, torture and enforced disappearances. The men were subsequently pardoned by President Carlos Menem. Néstor Kirchner, who served as President of Argentina from 2003 until 2007, repealed the Law of Due Obedience, which granted immunity to the security services for crimes committed during military rule, and the Full Stop Law, which similarly granted immunity to those accused of political violence during the dictatorship. Videla and some others were sent back to prison.