Uruguay: Update to URY39340.E of 9 October 2002 on the protection available to women who are victims of domestic violence; whether the police require witnesses when complaints are filed by victims of domestic violence
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||16 October 2003|
|Citation / Document Symbol||URY42050.FE|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uruguay: Update to URY39340.E of 9 October 2002 on the protection available to women who are victims of domestic violence; whether the police require witnesses when complaints are filed by victims of domestic violence, 16 October 2003, URY42050.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/403dd2228.html [accessed 23 May 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to the coordinator of the Institute for Women and Society (Instituto Mujer y Sociedad), a non-governmental organization that helps women who are victims of spousal abuse, a new law on domestic violence that was adopted by the Uruguayan parliament on 2 July 2002 (CLADEM 23 Nov. 2002) brought about a substantial improvement in the protection available to victims of such violence (Instituto Mujer y Sociedad 8 Oct. 2003).
This statement was corroborated by the director of Women Now (Mujer Ahora), a group specialized in domestic violence and mental health; she indicated that family judges can now intervene quickly in cases of domestic violence and order preventive measures (medidas cautelares), such as denying the aggressor access to the home he shares with the victim (9 Oct. 2003). The director added that, though this aspect of the new law has generated positive results, other measures, such as psychological counselling for victims and aggressors, have not always been implemented due to a lack of funds (Mujer Ahora 9 Oct. 2003).
According to the domestic violence group coordinator at the Women's Plenary Foundation of Uruguay (Fundación Plenario de Mujeres del Uruguay, PLEMUU), the protection available to victims of domestic violence is still insufficient, particularly with regard to the authorities' following up with the victims (8 Oct. 2003). The coordinator also indicated that there are not enough shelters for battered women (PLEMUU 8 Oct. 2003), a statement that was corroborated by other sources consulted by the Research Directorate (Instituto Mujer y Sociedad 8 Oct. 2003; Mujer Ahora 9 Oct. 2003).
However, the director of the group Women Now stated that public and non‑governmental organizations provide various services to victims of domestic violence (ibid.). Furthermore, the Family and Women's Police Stations (Comisarías de la Familia y la Mujer), the National Directorate for Public Crime Prevention (Dirección Nacional de Prevención Social del Delito) and the Assistance Centre for Victims of Family Violence (Centro de Asistencia a Víctimas de Violencia Familiar) offer comprehensive assistance to victims and their families (ibid.). According to the coordinator at PLEMUU, a telephone line is also offered free of charge and allows battered women to seek help anonymously from anywhere within the country (8 Oct. 2003).
The representatives of the Institute for Women and Society and the group Women Now both indicated that the attitude of the police toward victims of domestic violence has greatly improved over the last few years (Instituto Mujer y Sociedad 8 Oct. 2003; Mujer Ahora 9 Oct. 2003). However, despite the police's involvement in a number of training programs, the director of Women Now stated that it would still take some years before mentalities could be changed completely (ibid.). For example, even though police officers would not refuse to accept complaints of domestic violence, their prejudices could influence their interpretation of the victim's testimony when taking her statement (ibid.). Nevertheless, the PLEMUU representative stated that a woman would have trouble filing a domestic violence complaint if her husband was a police officer, since everyone generally knows each other in Uruguay and the husband's colleagues would try to protect him (8 Oct. 2003).
No mention of the requirement that a victim of domestic violence have witnesses in order to file a complaint with the police could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The coordinator of the Institute for Women and Society indicated that he had no knowledge of such incidents (Instituto Mujer y Sociedad 8 Oct. 2003). This information was corroborated by the director of Women Now, who said that the names of witnesses were not required at the time a complaint was filed, and that the police – in Montevideo, at least – did not normally ask for witnesses (Mujer Ahora 9 Oct. 2003).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (CLADEM). 23 November 2002. "Dossier de Violencia Doméstica."
Fundación Plenario de Mujeres del Uruguay (PLEMUU), Montevideo. 8 October 2003. Telephone interview with the domestic violence group coordinator.
Instituto Mujer y Sociedad, Montevideo. 8 October 2003. Telephone interview with the coordinator.
Mujer Ahora, Montevideo. 9 October 2003. Telephone interview with the director.
Additional Sources Consulted
Casa de la Mujer de la Unión, Montevideo
Comisión de la Mujer, Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo
Internet sites, including:
Casa de la Mujer de la Unión
Centro de Medios Independientes Uruguay
Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres
El Espectador [Montevideo]
Instituto Mujer y Sociedad
La Onda [Montevideo]
El País [Montevideo]