COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
81. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Uruguay
(CAT/C/17/Add.16) at its 274th and 275th meetings, held on 19 November
1996 (see CAT/C/SR.274 and 275), and adopted the following conclusions
82. The members of the Committee welcome the presentation of the second
periodic report by the delegation of Uruguay and note that Uruguay
was one of the first countries to ratify the Convention, that it has
not made any reservations and that it has recognized the optional
procedures set forth in articles 20, 21 and 22 of the Convention.
83. Uruguay is also a party to the Inter-American Convention to Prevent
and Punish Torture.
84. The Committee welcomes the fact that the Uruguayan delegation
included representatives of the executive and the judiciary and that
the report was prepared with the participation of official institutions
such as the Supreme Court of Justice, the Ministry of Education and
Culture and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as non-governmental
organizations such as Service Peace and Justice and the Institute
for Legal and Social Studies of Uruguay, which enjoy well-deserved
prestige in the area of the protection and promotion of human rights.
In the Committee's view, such cooperation clearly shows that the eradication
of the practice of torture has been elevated to the level of national
policy that must be pursued by the authorities and society as a whole.
85. The report describes a series of measures that attest to the authorities'
concern to achieve the maximum harmonization of legislation and administrative
procedures with the requirements of the Convention.
86. Among those measures are the bills on crimes against humanity,
on the establishment of courts of enforcement and supervision and
on the parliamentary commission set up to examine issues relating
87. The Committee also appreciates the establishment of the Honorary
National Commission for the Amendment of the Code of Penal Procedure,
through Act No. 15,844 of 1990, and of the Honorary Commission on
the improvement of the prison system, through Act No. 16,707 of July
88. The establishment of a working group on the national prison system,
made up of representatives of the non-governmental organizations listed
in paragraph 23 of the second periodic report, which is developing
a programme of systematic visits to penal institutions, is in the
Committee's view worthy of being held up as an example. Some of the
proposals formulated by the working group from a multi-disciplinary
point of view, which are described in the report, have been welcomed
by the Government and are an indication of the working group's serious
commitment; for this reason it should be given further support by
the Government and institutionalized.
89. With regard to medical ethics, mention should be made of the establishment
of a Committee on Medical Ethics and Academic Conduct within the Faculty
of Medicine of the Universidad de la República through Decree No.
258/92, which for the first time in domestic law regulates the ethical
standards applicable to medical conduct, and of the Uruguayan Medical
Association's adoption by a direct vote of its own Code of Medical
and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions
of the Convention
90. The Committee notes:
(a) The slowness of the legislative process for considering and adopting
the bills mentioned earlier;
(b) The fact that the technical cooperation agreement signed in 1992
between the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay has been suspended. The three projects
on awareness-raising and training in the application of international
human rights instruments, adopted under the agreement in 1992, for
prison officers, judicial personnel and doctors were positive initiatives
and it is regrettable that they have been ended.
91. The Committee regrets the State party's delay in giving effect
to the recommendations made during the consideration of Uruguay's
initial report. The Committee is particularly concerned at the following:
(a) The continuing gaps in Uruguayan legislation which are impeding
full implementation of the provisions of the Convention;
(b) The lack of a provision introducing a definition of the crime
of torture into domestic law in terms compatible with article 1, paragraph
1, of the Convention;
(c) The persistence in Uruguayan law of provisions concerning obedience
to a superior, which are incompatible with article 2, paragraph 3,
of the Convention.
92. The Committee welcomes the series of legal and administrative
measures described in the report, which attest to the State party's
determination to fulfil the obligations it assumed on promptly ratifying
the Convention. It regrets, however, the considerable delay in implementing
93. The Committee reminds the State party that it must introduce the
legal reforms needed to bring its internal legislation into conformity
with the provisions of the Convention, in particular as regards the
definition of torture as a specific offence and the elimination of
obedience to a superior as justification for exculpation from the
crime of torture.
94. It also urges the State party to improve the measures taken to
prevent the torture of persons deprived of their liberty and to strengthen
protection in prisons.