Freedom Status: Free
Aggregate Score: 98 (0 = Least Free, 100 = Most Free)
Freedom Rating: 1.0 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)
Political Rights: 1 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)
Civil Liberties: 1 (1 = Most Free, 7 = Least Free)

Quick Facts

Population: 3,500,000
Capital: Montevideo
GDP/capita: $15,574
Press Freedom Status: Free


Uruguay has a historically strong democratic governance structure and a positive record of upholding political rights and civil liberties while also working toward social inclusion. Although all citizens enjoy legal equality, there are still disparities in treatment and political representation for women, Uruguayans of African descent, and the indigenous population.

Key Developments in 2016:

  • Six former detainees who had been released to Uruguay from the U.S. military facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2014 continued to protest their presence in the country, demanding to be sent elsewhere and reunite with their families. One man engaged in a lengthy hunger strike during 2016 and twice made unsuccessful attempts to leave Uruguay.

  • In March, a Jewish community leader was stabbed to death in what appeared to be an anti-Semitic attack. The alleged perpetrator was arrested, charged, and eventually committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Executive Summary:

Violent crime remained a problem in Uruguay during 2016, though the rates were still fairly low for the region, and statistics for the year showed a decrease in key categories compared with 2015. Homicides, for example, fell to 265 from 293, for a rate of 7.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. Much of the rise in criminal activity over the past several years has been linked to the transnational drug trade.

In April, the government introduced legislation designed to define and combat gender-based violence, including femicide. A bill proposed in September would create a special prosecutors' office focused on crimes against humanity dating to the military regime that ended in 1985. The measures were still under consideration by lawmakers at year's end.

Explanatory Note:

This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Uruguay, see Freedom in the World 2016.

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