Uruguay to probe dictatorship crimes

People visit the "Images of Silence, 20 Years of Marches" photo exhibition in Montevideo on May 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/Pablo Porciuncula)

Montevideo (AFP) - Uruguay has created a commission to probe human rights violations perpetrated from 1968 to 1985 as the government cracked down brutally on a leftist rebellion.

The Truth and Justice Working Group will investigate crimes committed by the police and army during the country's 1973 to 1985 dictatorship, and during a state of emergency decreed prior to the dictatorship, on June 13, 1968.

The commission was created under a decree signed Tuesday by President Tabare Vazquez.

It said the commission will "investigate crimes against humanity committed by agents of the state or those who had its authorization, support or acquiescence, inside and outside Uruguay's borders."

Vazquez's Broad Front party includes former members of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which waged an insurgency against Uruguay's government starting in the early 1960s.

The president, who was sworn in for a second term in March, was not a member of the Tupamaros. But his predecessor Jose Mujica and several other powerful political figures were, and the legacy of dictatorship-era repression still looms large over the South American country.

"The consequences of the state's illegitimate actions and terrorism are still present," said the decree.

The announcement came as activists prepared to hold a 20th annual march of silence Wednesday calling for justice for the hundreds of people who disappeared during the dictatorship.