Amnesty International Report 2006 - Uruguay
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Uruguay, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7bd20.html [accessed 29 March 2015]|
Progress was made in dealing with human rights violations committed in the 1970s and 1980s. However, in most cases justice remained obstructed by the 1986 Expiry Law, which prevented legal proceedings against those involved in violations in this period. There were reports of the ill-treatment of detainees and of harsh conditions in prisons.
Impunity under the Expiry Law
The government of President Tabaré Vázquez Rosas initiated a number of investigations to establish the fate and burial places of victims of "disappearances" from the period of military government (1973-1985). The investigation sites included military barracks where a number of human remains were discovered. Three cases of past human rights violations were taken before the courts. However, no attempts were made to abolish the Expiry Law.
The government of Tabaré Vázquez Rosas interpreted the scope of the Expiry Law as limited to human rights violations committed under the military governments after the June 1973 military coup. This interpretation opened up the possibility of legal action against some 600 active and former members of the armed forces in connection with crimes committed before the coup.
The new government also excluded from the Expiry Law three cases that took place in Argentina, allegedly with the co-operation of Uruguayan and Argentine armed forces. The three cases were subsequently brought before the courts.
- In June, former President Juan Maria Bordaberry and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Blanco were charged with involvement in the murders of legislators Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz and activists Rosario Barredo and William Whitelaw. All four were killed in Argentina in 1976.
- In August the armed forces revealed that the remains of Maria Claudia Garcia de Gelman, who "disappeared" with her husband in 1976, were almost certainly buried in the grounds of the army's 14th Battalion near the capital, Montevideo. However, in November the Appeals Court shelved the case on the grounds that it was covered by the Expiry Law.
Ill-treatment of prisoners
There were reports of detainees, including minors, being ill-treated in police stations.
Harsh conditions and other ill-treatment were reported at Libertad Prison, in the department of San José, 50km from Montevideo. In June, hundreds of prisoners staged a hunger strike in protest at overcrowding at the prison and at the lack of food, medical assistance, hot water or electricity. They also demanded that Congress urgently introduce legislation to ease prison overcrowding.
In September, the Senate passed the Humanization and Modernization of the Prison System Law. The law aimed to relieve overcrowding in prisons by granting provisional or early release to certain categories of prisoners.