1. The Committee considered
the fourth periodic report of Uruguay (CCPR/C/95/Add.9) at its 1653rd
and 1654th meetings (CCPR/C/SR.1653 and 1654), held on 27 March 1998
and adopted at its 1665 th meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1665) (sixty second session),
held on 6 April 1998, the following comments.
2. The Committee welcomes
the timely submission of the fourth periodic report of Uruguay and takes
note of the useful information contained in the report concerning recent
legislative changes. It appreciates, in particular, that the report
in general takes into account a number of comments made by the Committee
during the consideration of the State party's third periodic report.
3. The Committee expresses
its appreciation to the Delegation for their thorough introduction of
the report and responses to questions raised by members of the Committee.
The valuable additional information provided by the State facilitated
an open, frank and fruitful dialogue between the Committee and the State
4. The Committee welcomes
the achievements during the period under review in bringing domestic
law into conformity with the provisions of the Covenant. Considerable
progress has also been realized with the enactment of new laws and codes
and with the strengthening of democratic institutions and processes
aimed at promoting and protecting human rights. Notable among these
legislative achievements is the enactment of the new Code of Criminal
Procedure (Act No. 16.893).
5. It also welcomes the
constitutional amendment of January 1997, which makes the electoral
system more transparent and brings it in line with international norms,
as well as various legislative acts to ensure equality between men and
women and to prevent domestic violence, including that against women,
children and old people.
6. It further welcomes the
steps taken to improve the training of law enforcement officers and
wardens in detention centers, as well as the agreements between the
Ministry of the Interior and the universities in order to improve police
C. Principal subjects
of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee expresses
once again its deep concern about the Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión
Punitiva del Estado (Expiry Law of the Punitive Powers of the State
) and its profound anxiety about the implications of the Law with regard
to compliance with the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee emphasizes
the obligation of States parties, under article 2, paragraph 3, of the
Covenant, to ensure that all persons whose rights or freedoms have been
violated shall have an effective remedy through recourse to the competent
judicial, administrative, legislative or other authority. The Committee
notes with deep concern that in a number of cases the maintenance of
the Expiry Law effectively excludes the possibility of investigation
into past human rights abuses and thereby prevents the State party from
discharging its responsibility to provide effective remedies to the
victims of those abuses. The Committee also considers that the Expiry
Law violates article 16 of the Covenant in respect of the disappeared
persons and article 7 in respect of their family members.
In light of the information
provided by the Delegation, the Committee encourages the State party
to promote and facilitate every opportunity to discuss this issue within
the country, in order to find a solution that is in full compliance
with Uruguay's obligations under the Covenant.
8. The Committee reiterates
its concern over the constitutional provisions relating to the declaration
of a state of emergency. In particular, the Committee notes that the
grounds for declaring an emergency are too broad and that the range
of rights which may be derogated from does not conform with article
4 of the Covenant. Additionally, the Constitution fails to make reference
to non-derogable rights.
The Committee reiterates
its observations on Uruguay's third periodic report, that the State
party restrict its provisions relating to the possibilities of declaring
a state of emergency, and constitutionally specify those Covenant rights
which are non-derogable.
9. The Committee appreciates
the new Code of Criminal Procedure that will come into force in July
of 1998. However, it notes with concern that the following aspects thereof
are not in conformity with the Covenant:
A) The Committee is particularly
concerned with article 55 of the Code in accordance with which a suspect
may be placed in "incommunicado" detention until a decision is taken
as to whether he should be committed to stand trial, and with the fact
that during this period the judge may restrict contact by the suspect
with a lawyer.
The Committee recommends
that this provision is brought into conformity with the Covenant.
B) The Committee is concerned
that the regulations relating to pre-trial detention both in respect
of suspects (imputados) and accused, are not in conformity with article
9 of the Covenant. In this regard, it underlines that, in accordance
with the principle of presumption of innocence, pre-trial detention
should not be mandatory. It is also concerned with the wide possibilities
which exist to restrict a suspect's liberty as set forth in article
185 of the Code, in the light of the broad definition of "imputado",
contained in article 51 (1) of the Code.
The Committee recommends
that detention procedures and other restrictions on the liberty of suspects
and accused should be revised with a view to facilitating full application
of the rights provided for under the Covenant, having particular regard
to the principle of the presumption of innocence.
C) The Committee is concerned
that, in accordance with the new Code, the trial judge is the same judge
who has supervised and/or ordered investigations, and who subsequently
charged the defendant. This raises serious concerns about possible impartiality
of the trial.
The Committee recommends
that the new Code ensure true impartiality in accordance with the Covenant.
D) The Committee is concerned
about articles 89 and 90 of the Code which provide that the marriage
to the accused of a victim of rape -even statutory rape-, and of other
criminal offences, extinguishes the criminal offence or the sentence
handed down at the trial, to the benefit of a perpetrator who has subsequently
married the victim, and particularly of all other participants in the
The Committee recommends
that these provisions be modified to conform to the Covenant.
10. Although the new Press
Law (Act No. 16,099) is in general a positive achievement, the Committee
is concerned that it still includes provisions that might impede the
full exercise of freedom of expression. Foremost among these are certain
provisions relating to offences committed by the press or other media,
in particular articles 19 and 26 of the law, relating to false information
and to slander through the media.
With respect to freedom
of expression, there should be greater freedom to seek information,
as provided for under article 19 (3) of the Covenant. Additionally,
the sanctions provided for under chapter IV of the Press Law are too
wide and may hinder the full enjoyment of article 19 of the Covenant.
In this regard, the law is not adequate.
11. The Committee, while
recognizing the progress made by the State party in respect of children's
rights and in particular the future Code Relating to Minors (Codigo
del Menor), remains concerned with the information provided by the delegation,
that the future Code discriminates against female minors and fails to
protect fully the new born child, as unmarried minor mothers may register
their children at any age whereas minor fathers may only do so from
the age of 16 onwards.
The Committee urges the
State party in the course of drafting this Code to bring the whole of
it into full conformity with articles 3 and 24 of the Covenant. It wishes
to receive the text of the Code when it is enacted.
12. The Committee is concerned
about the statement of the State party that no minority group exists
in Uruguay and recommends that the State party continue to develop its
efforts in identifying the minority groups within the country and adopt
the pertinent measures to ensure that the rights under article 27 are
13. The Committee recommends
that the State party proceed as rapidly as possible with the Bill before
Parliament on the Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo), and that the Office
should be independent of the Government, have jurisdiction to deal with
human rights violations, and be adequately staffed to deal with complaints
14. The Committee is concerned
with the information provided by the State party, in respect of the
follow-up on the Committee's decisions in individual cases, where the
Committee has established a violation of the Covenant. In particular,
the Committee does not consider it appropriate to expect a person found
to be a victim of a human right violation to have to initiate new procedures
before the domestic courts to establish the violation, and considers
that the statute of limitations should not apply.
The Committee recommends
that the State party provide a remedy in accordance with the views adopted
by the Committee on individual cases considered under the Optional Protocol.
15. The Committee further
recommends that greater publicity should be given to the Covenant and
the Optional Protocol to ensure that the provisions of these instruments
are made widely known to the legislature, the executive, the judiciary,
law enforcement officials and members of the legal profession, as well
as to the general public.
16. The Committee draws
the attention of the Government of Uruguay to the provisions of the
guidelines regarding the form and contents of periodic reports from
States parties, and requests that its next periodic report, due on 21
March 2003, contain material which responds to all of these concluding
observations. The Committee further requests that these concluding observations
be widely disseminated among the public at large in all parts of Uruguay.