Uruguay - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in EASTERN REPUBLIC OF URUGUAY

Amnesty International  Report 2013


The 2013 Annual Report on
Uruguay is now live »

Head of state and government: Tabaré Vázquez Rosas
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified

Progress was recorded in cases of past human rights violations. Prisons were reportedly overcrowded and conditions were inadequate. Sugar cane workers demonstrated against poverty.

Background

Social exclusion continued during the year. For example, in January sugar cane workers and members of social welfare organizations demonstrated in the capital, Montevideo, in favour of land rights and against poverty. This followed the occupation of disused land at Colonia España, Bella Unión area, Artigas Department, by more than 50 people urging the authorities to provide land and housing to six working families.

In November Uruguay ratified the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court. The Agreement provided the framework for the Court to function effectively.

Uruguay has not submitted its periodic report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights since 1996.

Justice for past human rights violations

Although the Expiry Law of 1986 preventing legal proceedings against members of the security forces from the military period (1973-1985) remained in force, some judicial decisions revealed progress in the fight for justice for victims of past human rights violations.

In September, a Penal Judge in Montevideo found six military officers and two former policemen guilty of organized crime and of kidnapping Uruguayan members of the opposition group Party for People's Victory (Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo) in Argentina in 1976 as part of Operation Condor. They had not been sentenced by the end of the year.

In November, the 11th Penal Judge ordered the detention and trial of former President Juan María Bordaberry (1971-1976) and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Blanco. They were charged with the murders of legislators Zelmar Michelini and Hector Gutierrez Ruiz, along with two members of the Tupamaro guerrilla group Movement of National Liberation (Movimiento de Liberación Nacional), Rosario Barredo and William Whitelaw, in Argentina in 1976. The decision was under appeal at the end of the year.

Prisons

There were reports of overcrowding, lack of medical attention, inadequate food and ill-treatment by prison guards.

In February, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Prisons reported the results of a visit to Libertad prison, San José Department. He found that detainees were subjected to degrading treatment while being searched by guards, and that the use of rubber bullets was excessive.

Following a visit in March, the Parliamentary Commissioner confirmed complaints of overcrowding in Las Rosas prison, Maldonado Department, which had led to a number of prisoners sleeping on the floor.

Intergovernmental organizations

In November, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern at the persistent and systematic violation of women's human rights in Uruguayan prisons. It criticized discrimination against women prisoners, inadequate health care and obstacles encountered by female detainees in complaining about abuses by prison guards and inmates.