C.          URUGUAY


1.          INTRODUCTION


          At its ninth regular session, the General Assembly of the Organization instructed the Commission to continue to monitor the exercise of human rights in Uruguay and to present a report on the development of the situation to the General Assembly at its next regular session.


          Likewise, in Resolution 443, adopted at that same session, the General Assembly again appealed to the Government of Uruguay for comprehensive implementation of the measures recommended by the Commission in its previous report; it again requested the Government of Uruguay to consider the possibility of inviting the Commission to visit the country and it took note of the Uruguayan Government’s announcement of general elections, scheduled for 1981, taking into account the conclusions and observations set forth in the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


          In accordance with the General Assembly’s mandate, this report addresses events that have occurred in Uruguay since 1979. However, so that this report may be up-to-date and reflect the current situation in Uruguay, certain important events that occurred during the first months of 1980 are considered.




          According to information the Commission has in its hands, the situation of human rights in Uruguay has not undergone any basic change as regards the state’s structure during the period covered in this report: this can be interpreted to mean that the government organization in that country has not introduced any significant changes in the administrative and monitoring machinery that has been set up gradually since 1973, and under which the rigid system of state control against which denunciations of violations of human rights have been filed, as appear in the Commission’s earlier reports, has remained intact.


          However, the Commission acknowledges that at this time, the number of denunciations that have been received against Uruguay for violations of human rights has dropped; it has received with satisfaction reports to the effect that the number of political prisoners has decreased when compared with the number of individuals detained in previous years; it is also pleased that there have been fewer detentions and kidnappings during this period and that the number of deaths as a consequence of clashes has dropped considerably.


          The Commission takes note of the public statements made by the President of the Supreme Military Tribunal to the effect that proceeding against political detainees have been expedited and regularized and the fact that the number of detainees not yet brought to trial has dropped and that proceedings against a significant percentage of detainees have been concluded.




          On March 28, 1980, the Uruguayan Government passed a law that gives the military judicial authority exclusive legal competence to grant the benefits of “early release,” “parole” and “pardon,” which until that time had been the exclusive competence of the President of the Republic and the civil judicial authority. It also authorizes the Supreme Military Tribunal to review sentences with authority of res judicata, thereby making it possible to revoke accumulative sentences for security measures.


          Certain organs of the Uruguayan press portrayed that law as being one of amnesty for foreigners. However, insofar as it concerns the possibility of revoking sentences, that assessment refers exclusively to a Brazilian citizen, doña Flavia Schilling Wesp, who to date is the only individual who has benefited from that law due to the limitations established under Uruguayan law for cases of review of sentences. As for the powers to release political prisoners, the law in question does not contribute anything new to Uruguayan legislation since that power, now transferred to the military judges, existed beforehand as a power of the Chief of State and of the Court of Civil Justice, although it was not used.


          As it was explained in the Commission’s previous report, the Uruguayan Government had announced a political plan that provided for elections in 1981 on the basis of a single candidate who was to have the approval of the Armed Forces. The political “chronogram” announced also made reference to drafting of a new constitution, scheduled to appear in 1980 and to be submitted to a national plebiscite for approval.


          Following that political chronogram, on May 15, 1980, the Uruguayan citizenry was given the text of the note the President of the Republic sent to the President of the Council of State, Dr. Hamlet Reyes, in which he transmitted to that body the preliminary draft text of the Constitution which the Government of Uruguay was submitting to the Council of State, so that the latter would proceed to do the following: “… c) prepare the preliminary draft text of a Constitution, which will be submitted to the citizenry for ratification in accordance with the principles that follow from the previously-established goals, the grounds of the Institutional Act and the bases to be approved.”1


          The Preliminary Draft that the Executive Power submitted to the Council of State for consideration contains, in the very first line, a condition that brands it and places its democratic nature in question. In effect, the text proposed as a new draft constitution bears the following heading: “PRINCIPLES, BASES AND CONDITIONS OF THE NEW CONSTITUTION.”


          The draft of the new constitution, which according to statements published in the press was drawn up by the Committee on Political Affairs in the Armed Forces, establishes severe limitations that could institutionally restrict life and democratic political activity in Uruguay.


          According to the draft text, political activities would be subject to very serious limitations, as said earlier. For example, with respect to political parties, it states the following:


         It shall be prohibited to establish political parties that by their ideology, principles or name, indicate a tie or connection with foregoing political parties, institutions and organizations, or with other states and that are composed of individuals who have been members of social or political organizations that, through violence or propaganda that incites to violence, seek to destroy the foundation of the nation, or of those who have been members of associations declared to be illegal by the competent authority.


          As can be noted, this provision permanently prohibits those who have been members of “associations declared to be illegal” from becoming members of political parties. It also carries the prohibition against ties with foreign institutions to extraordinary extremes. The traditional norm in Uruguay was to prohibit the formation of political organizations answerable to the authority of foreign institutions. However, the “principles and goals” prohibit the formation of political parties that have “a tie or connection” with institutions abroad and their “ideology, principles or name” are sufficient to show that “tie or connection.” Thus, the mere existence of organizations in other countries with a similar ideology or name will be an impediment to the formation of a political party in Uruguay. It is obvious that restrictions of this kind are irreconcilable with the guarantee of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.2


          Exercise of political rights by individuals is subject to still other types of restrictions. At present, there are various classes of individuals accused of no crime whatever who are deprived of their political rights, in some cases even the right to vote, by virtue of Institutional Act Nº 4. The “principles and goals” contain no direct reference to this situation. Hence, the provisions of chapter III shall apply: “It shall be established that all juridical and administrative acts issued between 1973 and the date of the entry into force of the new constitution are ratified. Those standards that are not in conflict with the provisions of the constitution shall remain in force.” Since the “abrogation of political rights” provided for in Institutional Act Nº 4 was decreed for 15 years, many thousands of citizens will continue to be deprived of all political rights for the sole reason of having engaged in certain political activities.


          A number of standards included in the “principles and goals” constitute serious limitations on the right to participate in government.3 This is particularly true because of the prerogatives reserved for institutions and organs whose power would limit the authority of the elective institutions. Thus, the Armed Forces must be represented in the Executive Power with respect to the most vital affairs.4 Also, “political control” is structured in such a way as to perpetuate the authority of those who now exercise political control, whose representatives will retain broad powers that will enable them to remove elected officials.5


          The very process followed for approval of the new constitution and for election of new officials must be regarded as injurious to the right to participate in government functions and the right to vote. Only the current organs of government participated in the drafting of the new constitution. Political parties may not take part in the discussions or act openly to assume a free and public stance before the plebiscite. The option that the citizenry will be given will be limited to approval or rejection of a single text so drafted. Public statements by members of the current government have appeared in the press to the effect that rejection of the draft in the plebiscite would be interpreted to mean a preference for preserving the current regime, in other words the 1966 Constitution and the amendments that resulted from the “Institutional Acts;” following this criterion, the option being offered is limited to two different formulations of the current orientation, with no opportunity to express disapproval of it.


          The “principles and goals” also contain numerous provisions of interest from the standpoint of protection of human rights. In general terms, they are cause for serious concern because this opportunity, an extraordinary propitious one for reestablishing the rights now limited, seems to be viewed instead as a means to affirm those same restrictions on rights.


          The chapter entitled “rights” states that the rights, obligations and guarantees recognized in the 1966 Constitution are being maintained. However, this does not preclude the particular standards stipulated on numerous subjects, in which the scope with which the guarantee of rights is formulated is much narrower than in the 1966 Constitution. This is the case with the standards on protection of the home, the right to form unions and strike, the right to regulation of labor associations and freedom of information (in these provisions the prohibition against night time search and seizure and prior censorship, which was part of the 1966 Constitution, is eliminated; on the other hand, provisions are added prohibiting certain categories of individuals from unionization, prohibiting civil servants from going on strike, and so on).


          The system of “prompt security measures,” application of which has given rise to certain criticism, is modified in two ways. On the one hand, this system would no longer include certain theoretical guarantees contained in the 1966 Constitution (the option of detainees to leave the country, the right of the legislative organ to lift those measures at any time). On the other hand, the prompt security measures would become only one of three new categories of “states of emergency,” and specifically would be the least severe. Alongside the prompt security measures, the new Constitution would establish the “state of subversion,” which would be more intensive in scope,6 and, as a third category, the “state of war.” The discretionary powers that this system reserves for the Government and the Armed Forces would be much broader than under the constitutional system now in force, even taking the Institutional Acts into consideration. From this standpoint, the draft text clearly strengthens the repressive machinery and encourages less responsibility in its application.


          In the area of punishment for criminal violations, the competence of the military courts is upheld. It is expressly stated that the civil courts are subject to the authority of the military judges. The jurisdiction of the military judges is defined in extremely broad and vague terms.7


          Certain elements of the autonomy of the Judicial Power, which had been eliminated by Institutional Act Nº 8, are reestablished; but administrative control of civil justice is maintained and is clearly greater than it was under the 1966 Constitution.8




          During the period covered in this report, the Commission received a new denunciation concerning the right to life. According to this denunciation, in Montevideo, on May 1, 1980, the Joint Forces allegedly made a number of violent attacks upon persons in the streets to prevent any demonstration to commemorate Workers’ Day, traditionally celebrated on that date as an official holiday, but which has not been celebrated since 1974. In one of those episodes, the Joint Forces allegedly opened fire on a group of workers at the entrance to their factory and wounded a number of them and killed Emilio Reyes, 22 years of age. Later, the event was allegedly the subject of an official communiqué, which acknowledged the death of the victim and explained it through an account that the claimant considers to be false and implausible.


          Further, the Commission has not received from the Government of Uruguay any additional information or clarification with respect to the cases of death during confinement that the Commission had studied, concluding that the apprehending authorities seemed to be responsible. The Commission’s earlier reports give details on such cases and on others where the Commission did not consider the clarification received from the Government to explain those cases to be sufficient. There is no information, investigatory measures or punishments with respect to those responsible for the attacks on the right to life.




          There were no significant changes in the situation described in the Commission’s earlier reports. Certain Uruguayan authorities, in particular the President of the Supreme Military Tribunal, have made, as has been said, public declarations to the effect that the proceedings being filed against detainees have been expedited and regularized, and made special mention of the drop in the number of detainees not yet brought to trial and a percentage increase in the number of detainees whose trials have been concluded.


          These facts represent a more thorough or more rapid application of the military penal process, but do not alter the characteristics of that process. In its earlier reports, the Commission had occasion to outline the denounced irregularity in that procedure and the extent to which those irregularities should be considered to be either expressly or tacitly confirmed by the government’s report. Under such circumstances, in the Commission’s opinion, more expeditious application cannot be viewed as an improvement in the situation, if the system of guarantees of that process is not corrected. In some sense, the conclusion of those proceedings rather represents an exacerbation of the situation in that it establishes res judicata against those brought to trial under irregular circumstances and upholds sentences that were imposed without the proper guarantees.


          The flaws in the Uruguayan criminal procedure have been studied and criticized by other international agencies. The Committee on Human Rights established by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in three decisions issued in 1979 and 1980 on cases examined by virtue of the Optional Protocol of the Covenant, has had an opportunity to study the proceedings against six individuals in Uruguay. These decisions have special weight because they are the opinions of an impartial organ governed by very strict procedural standards, and whose conduct has been praised repeatedly in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly because of its reliability.9 In its decision of August 15, 1979 (document A/34/40, Appendix VII), the Committee rendered its decision on the cases of three individuals. As for the guarantees of the trial (the decision also refers to other violations of rights), the resolution states that all of these individuals “were tried under circumstances in which they were deprived of the due guarantees of an impartial trial.” In a decision of October 26, 1979,10 which concerned an individual who had been detained without being brought to trial, the Committee stated that: “the individual had been deprived of an effective recourse to challenge his arrest and detention.” Finally, in the decision of April 3, 1980,11 the Committee stated that the two victims “were tried under circumstances in which the legal provisions notwithstanding, they did not have the proper guarantees of a fair trial.”


          These conclusions of the Committee on Human Rights only concern the respective individual cases; however, an examination of the facts that were proven in those cases shows that they involve situations typical of and similar to cases of detention and application of military justice in Uruguay in general. The defects of the military trial that are listed in the decisions of August 1979 and April 1980 are not unique to those cases, but rather—in the light of the information the Commission has and which the Uruguayan Government expressly acknowledges or has never denied—are typical of the current application of that type of proceeding.


          In the ILO as well there have been criticisms of the procedure applied to detainees, in relation to the situation of unionists who had been tried.12




          One of the most recent events brought to the Commission’s attention, which gives a picture of the internal conditions in Uruguay, concerns the right of assembly.


          In effect, on January 25, 1980, the Montevideo Police issued the following “Official Communiqué Nº 2” to the citizenry.


         Deadline for Requests to Hold Public Events


         The Office of the Chief of Police of Montevideo, reiterating earlier communiqués and in accordance with the provisions in force, reminds those who are interested in holding public events, assemblies (of social, cultural, professional, sports, and cooperative institutions, businesses, mutual medical aid societies, etc., even in certain cases of religious organization, when they go beyond the mere exercise of worship on their own premises), elections, benefits, conferences, cultural and artistic events, tributes (to living or dead persons, to be held at sites, cemeteries, monuments, etc.), processions, including sports parades, scientific, technical and other congresses, that they must obtain the necessary authorization from these Headquarters at least (10) days prior to the holding of the event.


         It is advised that requests not presented by the specified deadline shall not be considered.


         As for family gatherings such as dances or other festivities, which, by their nature, bring together an unusual number of individuals, only the corresponding precinct must be advised.


          The text of the above communication is addressed, as can be seen, to social and cultural entities, to groups of professionals, to sportsmen, to religious organizations and to Uruguayan families; thus their right to assemble and their freedom of association are subject to new restrictions.


          Apart from the communiqué, which is only one law designed to regulate the activities and conduct of the Uruguayan populace, there is other evidence that attests to the persistence in the extreme restrictions to which the rights of individuals in Uruguay are subject. The Commission cites below the events that occurred at the end of 1979 in connection with a social meeting, which had connotations of an unforeseen political result: on the occasion of his birthday, a banquet was given in honor of Mr. Carlos Julio Pereyra; in the enthusiasm of the moment, the guest of honor allegedly improvised a speech whose content, according to Uruguayan authorities, had been tinged with political implications.


          As a consequence of this event, certain measures were taken against those who attended the banquet, such as the measure that led to the denunciation corresponding to Case 7369, the evidence of which is a resolution of the Government of Uruguay, issued jointly by ministers from various branches and bearing the signature of the President of the Republic.


          The Resolution states the following:


         Ministry of the Interior

         Ministry of National Defense

         Ministry of Labor and Social Security

         Ministry of Justice


         Montevideo, March 5, 1980


         HAVING SEEN: The background information presented by the Chief of Police of Montevideo in connection with the meeting held by a political group; ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….


         WHEREAS: I) On that occasion a group of citizens met to hold, for political purposes, a tribute to Mr. Carlos Julio Pereyra on the occasion of his birthday; the meeting gave the guest of honor an opportunity to give a clearly political speech in which he made statements in opposition to the current system of prohibiting political activities. The participants included Mr. Carlos Enrique Rodríguez Labruna, Alember Vaz Vaz, Alvaro Vicente Regulo Lapido Días and Mr. Guillermo García Costa, who were affected by the system of political disqualification in question.


         II) The aforementioned individuals now receive pensions for having held political office ……………………………………………………………………………………


         CONSIDERING: that the events cited above having been proven by the competent authorities, the Executive Power must apply the laws that penalize violations of the system of political disqualification in force, in order to preserve its legal effect and to prevent those covered under its provisions from repeating their offense, so as to help preserve the peace and security the Republic now enjoys……………………………………………


         IN VIEW OF: The provisions of articles 3 and 6, paragraph b, of Institutional Act Nº 4 of September 1, 1976……………………………………………





         1) To withdraw up to one third of the pensions being received by the following individuals, as of the date of notification of this resolution, for a period of one year:


         Carlos Enrique RODRÍGUEZ LABRUNA (C.C. Series ALA Nº 5566)

         Alember VAZ VAZ (C.C. Series GAB Nº 4422)

         Alvaro Vicente Régulo LAPIDO DIAZ (C.C. Series BMA Nº 10,434)

         Guillermo Francisco GARCIA COSTA (C.C. Series RAB Nº 14,050)


         2) That the Electoral Court shall be informed so that it may record the present resolution..........................................................


         3) That the resolution be directed to the General Bureau of Social Security so that it may serve notice upon the individuals listed under operative paragraph 1 and deduct the necessary amount……………………


4)                 That so done, let it be filed……………………………………………………………


                                                               Signature of the President


         Signatures of the Ministers


          Moreover, with evident severity completely out of proportion, another denunciation on record with the Commission shows that merely for attending the same birthday banquet, the following individuals were penalized by being removed from their posts: Dr. Héctor Clavijo, an official of the legislative House; Walter Hugo Palombo, Secretary General of the National Port Administration; Dr. Fernando Oliú, Chief of the Chamber of Lawyers of the Bank of the Republic; Dr. Diamantino Amaral, judge and member of the Bar and an official of the Judicial Power; Dr. Mario Jaso Anchorena, an official of the State Sanitation Works; Mr. León Morelli, an official of the Social Security Bank, and Mr. Washington Legaspi, an official of the Social Security Bank.


          Another significant event that, again, is directly related to the restrictions imposed on the right of assembly and freedom of association and, at the same time, on the right to liberty and personal security and integrity, is the subsequent mass arrest of all those who attended the event, who were held prisoners and subjected to rigorous interrogation. The Number of detainees in connection with the birthday banquet in question was more than 100.




          The policy followed by the Government of Uruguay, under the authority of the provisions contained in the Institutional Acts and the legal provisions issued under the security system set up by the Armed Forces, has not changed insofar as freedom of expression is concerned. On the contrary, a policy of strict control has been maintained; individuals who express divergent opinions or opinions contrary to those of the Uruguayan Government are persecuted and punished.


          Recently, the Commission was informed of the measures taken by the Government of Uruguay against a number of leaders of political parties who made a joint statement against the Uruguayan Government’s political plans. Merely for having expressed an opinion against the government plan, on Saturday, June 14, 1980, the following individuals were arrested:


-                   Dr. Jorge Batlle, of the Partido Colorado

-                   Dr. Amílcar Vasconcellos, senator of the Partido Colorado

-                   Prof. Carlos Julio Pereyra, senator of the Partido Nacional

-                   Esc. Dardo Ortíz, senator of the Partido Nacional

-                   Dr. Juan Pablo Terra, senator and President of the Christian Democrat Party

-                   Mr. Raumar Jude, of the Partido Colorado, who has an arrest warrant out against him and at the present time, according to information received, is in hiding.




          As a consequence of the present situation in the Republic of Uruguay, individuals representative of almost all political sectors of that country have informed the Commission of their concern with respect to the existing situation, which is not only in violation of human rights but also shows the inconceivable intent of the authorities to repress any form of expression that, in the Government’s opinion, takes issue with its political plan. The situation is not the one best suited to development of the political program announced by the Government.


          The opinion of the major part of the country’s political forces is that the present climate is not conducive to constitutional reform, and this in itself is a serious political problem that is of concern to the Commission. The necessary conditions claimed to be lacking are a suitable climate of political freedom, a truly free press, guarantees, etc., which are essential for the holding of a national plebiscite.


          The six Constitutions that Uruguay has approved and enacted during its existence as a republic contain no precedent whatever for an action like the one with which issue is taken with the current Government, that is, its attempt to impose a constitution without the participation of the nation’s political forces, which are its political parties.




          A number of denunciations received by the Commission from Uruguayan citizens, who allege that they have been the victims of various violations of human rights on the part of Uruguayan authorities, all point to the problems they have with Uruguayan authorities vis-à-vis the use of their passports when they want to travel abroad or when they are traveling in other countries.


          Such facts, which are almost never the main reason for the complaint but rather only one episode more among the facts that are presented to the Commission for its consideration, are meaningful when it is shown that these are not simply isolated cases that happen to one or a few persons, but rather a systematic and practically generalized practice applied to a significant number of Uruguayan citizens whose way of thinking places them at odds with and in opposition to the political objectives of the Government.


          It has been explained to the Commission that this practice takes the following forms:


1.              refusal to issue passports;


2.              refusal to review passports at the end of first period of the document’s effect (five years) or when it expires (ten years in all, as of the date of the original issuance);


3.              issuance of limited passports that only allow the individual to travel to certain countries expressly listed in the document, and


4.              confiscation of valid passport.


          The individuals against whom such measures are taken would be as follows:


          a.       individuals who have been tried for political activities considered to be criminal;


          b.       individuals who, while not having been brought to trial, have been held prisoner because of political or union activities;


          c.       individuals who have been summoned because of their political or union activities;


          d.       individuals who, while not having been brought to trial, held prisoner, or summoned, have a background of political or union activities, in teaching, in journalism, or various expressions of culture and art, and


          d.       individuals who, without necessarily having been involved in any of the situations indicated above, have taken part in activities that denounce the situation of the Uruguayan people, have expressed their solidarity in one or another way, or simply, have expressed concern with regard to violations of human rights in Uruguay.


          As for the situations that have presented themselves in recent years as a result of these restrictive measures with respect to passports, one of the statements placed at the Commission’s disposal states the following:


         Outside the country, the decision to refuse passports means that Uruguayans do not have papers, which creates many difficulties for them. It forces them to resort to a number of measures—usually refuge—to resolve the problem. First they face a period of uncertainty while the requests are sent to Montevideo to be processed; that period is often as long as five or six months. During that period the individuals in question are at least temporarily without papers, since the requests can only be submitted when the passport is about to expire.


         There are other complications involved. For example, certain foreign service officers refuse to handle the proceedings that individuals who have been denied a passport attempt to initiate. Thus, some Uruguayans are condemned to a kind of “civil death” which in some cases prevents them from using the normal channels to register their children born abroad (generally, this registration is the only type of measure that Uruguayans who have no papers are allowed to take), conducting consular procedures, legalizing documents or obtaining certificates.


         Clearly, there are some remedies for Uruguayans who have been deprived of a passport. Some of them can claim the nationality of the country of origin of their ancestors. This formula can be used in a country where immigration contributed to much of the population; however, it is not always feasible because of the requirements and limitations imposed by various laws. Others have had to opt for refuge or political asylum, when they are in a position to accede to it. Otherwise, they must agree to obtain special documents and travel papers, which, as is known, are not as universally accepted as regular passports. A few can apply for nationality in the country wherein they reside although, save for exceptional cases, this solution requires a period of stable residence that is considerably lengthy and involves complicated procedures.


         There have been some cases where the passport was granted to individuals for whom refusal might have been expected because of similar precedents. In a few exceptional instances, where the authorities have processed requests submitted by the interested parties, the decisions denying the requests have been reversed; but this has occurred in no more than a dozen cases as against others where the denial has been upheld even after the corresponding appeals have been made. The exceptions in the application of the general criteria denounced do not substantially alter the policy followed.




          1.          The Commission has been able to verify that within the period covered in this commentary, the denunciations against the Government of Uruguay alleging violation of human rights, have dropped; that the number of individuals held prisoner for political reasons has also dropped; that there have been few detentions than in previous years and that the number of deaths as a result of confrontation has also significantly dropped;


          2.          However, the structure of the Uruguayan Government has remained intact, with all the features described in earlier reports; there is nothing that allows one to assume that significant changes have been made designed to avoid the excesses permitted in repressing subversion;


          3.          The Uruguayan Government has not conducted the investigations recommended by the Commission to establish the guilt of the authors of acts of torture and other abuses inflicted upon political detainees;


          4.          The text of the new draft constitution entitled “Principles, bases and conditions of the new Constitution,” which the Uruguayan Government has drafted and submitted to the Council of State for approval, contains serious contradictions of the standards contained in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; the national plebiscite convoked for its approval does not give the Uruguayan voter any choices;


          5.          The “prompt security measures,” in accordance with the draft constitution, would become only one of three new categories of “states of emergency,” and would be the least severe. Alongside the “prompt security measures” the Constitution would establish the “state of subversion,” which would be much more intensive in scope; the third category would be the “state of war,” with which a constitutional system would be established in Uruguay where the repressive machinery would be intensified and important constitutional guarantees contained in the 1966 Constitution would be eliminated, and


          6.          Most of the political forces in Uruguay, through their authorized spokesmen, have told the Commission of their concern over the Uruguayan Government’s intention to hold, following its “political chronogram,” presidential elections in 1981, with only one candidate who must have the approval of the Armed Forces, and a national plebiscite to approve the new constitution in November of this year, despite the fact that the proper climate and the essential required for such political acts do not exist because of the nonexistence of an adequate climate of political freedom, the absence of a truly free press, the lack of guarantees, etc., elements which are essential to carry out any act of political significance such as the ones mentioned.




          The Commission repeats the recommendations that it made to the Government of Uruguay in its previous reports. In particular, on this occasion, it would like to recommend to that Government the following:


a.      That a complete and impartial investigation be ordered to establish who was responsible for the deaths, caused by physical duress, of those individuals who were being detained or who were under arrest and that it inform the Commission of the results of that investigation.


b.      That it amend or repeal the laws of exception which, as has been pointed out in this report, often place serious limitations on human rights in Uruguay and in some cases have led to manifest abuses as, for example, the limitations on the rights of association and assembly, politically motivated cancellation of retirement privileges and refusal to issue passports to certain Uruguayans.


c.       That it take the necessary steps to reestablish the representative democratic system which, as the Commission has repeatedly pointed out, is the most effective guarantee of the observance of human rights. In this regard, the Commission does not wish to indicate any specific measure that the Government should adopt, but it must point out that the measures the Government has announced are not conducive to that goal.


d.       The Commission considers it advisable to insist upon the need for an on-site observation for the purposes indicated in its previous report.


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1            On May 16, 1980, the provisions of the law cited above were published in the Uruguayan newspapers; the law, dated June 12, 1976, establishes the functions and competence of the Council of State.

2            Article XXII of the American Declaration.

3            Article XX of the American Declaration.

4            The National Security Council will be a member of the Executive Power. The President of the Republic, “together with the Joint Chiefs of Command, will be responsible for national security and defense.” This last provision should be interpreted bearing in mind that the concept of “national security” is specifically defined as follows: “the state whereby all forms of the national estate and the process of development toward national objectives are protected against internal or external interference or aggression.” Express provision is made for broad participation on the part of the Armed Forces.. The Joint Staff “shall be adequately tied in with public agencies and the private sector.” The Armed Forces’ participation or agreement is mandatory in a wide variety of areas: for example, preparation of the internal budget of the legislative organ or the proposals made by the President of the Republic before the Constitutional Tribunal.

5            The task of “political control” is entrusted to a Constitutional Tribunal. This organ shall be made up of “the Council of the Nation, before it is dissolved.” The Council of the Nation is an organ that exists at the present time and is composed of all the active generals (and their counterparts in the Navy and the Air Force) and the members of the Council of State who have been appointed by the President. Vacancies that occur on the Constitutional Tribunal are to be filled subsequently by a system based on cooptation (the President will select the candidate from a slate proposed by the Tribunal itself). Its functions and powers are extraordinarily broad. It may “order removal from post” in cases of “nonobservance of ethical, moral or civic standards.” It may act on its own initiative and “decide by conviction.”

6            The “state subversion” is defined as “a serious domestic situation with or without support from abroad, characterized by events or attitudes that affect the life, freedom and security of the Nation.” The President, with the National Security Council, may decree a state of subversion. The legislative organ may lift the state of subversion only after 60 days, and by a vote of two thirds of its members.

7            “Military jurisdiction will be limited to military crimes, crimes of lese majesty, crimes used as means of action and in any way connected with or related to subversion and the state of war. These crimes are to be the competence of the military courts even when their author is a civilian. Common crimes committed by military personnel in time of peace and military crimes committed by civilians will be subject to the provisions of the law.

8            Judges will be appointed by the Court of Justice but with prior and mandatory intervention by the Ministry of Justice, “whose justified opposition shall constitute an impediment.” The Ministry of Justice may also intervene “to regularize the situation,” in the case of irregularities on the part of judicial offices. The members of the Court of Justice will be appointed by the President with the approval of the legislature (before they were appointed by the Parliament). The Ministry of Justice will also intervene in the appointment of administrative officers.

9            For example: Resolution 34-35, of December 1979.

10            United Nations document HR/1871.

11            United Nations Document HR/891.

12            200th Report of the Committee on Union Freedom. Case 763, paragraphs 29 and 36.