The Argentine media has published details of the Red Cross humanitarian mission in the Falkland Islands to identify the remains of the 123 unknown Argentine soldiers buried at the Darwin cemetery, and a single word stands out, confidentiality, from the beginning to end, including a final assessment to decide what will effectively be released to the media.
The Humanitarian Project Plan, PPH, refers to what was agreed by the Argentine and British delegations (plus two Falklands representatives) last 20 December in London and is collected in an 11 page document stating that Argentina and UK will select two forensic experts each to be considered by the Red Cross. The overall operation will be under a Red Cross official with a deputy in the field for the forensic task.
The overall cost of the PPH is estimated between 1.1 and 1.4 Swiss Francs (almost equal in US dollars), which is expected to cover all expenses from salaries, transport to all the DNA lab contracts. The cost will be funded by Argentina and UK.
The exhumation of remains will take place between June and September, three months that coincide with winter but when rainfall is lowest in the Falklands. The task will be one by one, and once a sample is taken from skeleton tissue for DNA test, remains will be returned in a proper coffin to the grave.
Forensic staff will work in a temporary morgue of containers at the Darwin cemetery, where the primary lab conditioning will take place. The document indicates that local labor will be needed for the digging and other tasks.
Samples will be regularly shipped to the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Department in Cordoba for the DNA sample testing and checking with those of next of kin. Random tissue (10%/20% of samples) will be shipped to Lancashire University in Preston and to Santiago de Compostela, Spain University for a double and blind cross checking to ensure the results from Cordoba.
In Page 6 both sides are bound to strict confidentiality and only report to the next of kin the results. Each remains exhumed will have an individual report, and at the end there will be a consolidated document with all the data. However PPH admits that it is possible some remains won't be identified because of lack of available reliable samples for the testing.
Work in the Falklands will be done in total confidentiality, public information will be limited to a minimum, strictly necessary” given the sensitivity of the mission and no media will be allowed. Furthermore the plan is to fence the area during those months. Only after the final report is delivered, Argentina and UK will assess how much of it will be declassified, if any.