1. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Uruguay
(CCPR/C/64/Add.4) at its 1216th to 1218th meetings held on 29
and 30 March 1993 and adopted 1/ the following comments.
2. The Committee welcomes the third periodic report of Uruguay
covering the important changes which have taken place in that
country since 1989. The Committee takes note of the useful information
contained in the report concerning recent legislative changes
and appreciates, in particular, that the report in general takes
into account comments made by the Committee during the consideration
of the State party's second periodic report. There was, however,
no information in the report on several articles of the Covenant
or on implication for the Covenant of the Law of Expiry of the
Punitive Powers of the State (Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión
Punitiva del Estado), which is a matter of particular concern
to the Committee. The report should also have included more information
on the factors and difficulties encountered in the actual application
of the Covenant and on the follow-up to the views adopted by the
Committee on individual complaints under the Optional Protocol.
3. The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party
for having sent a high-level representative who introduced the
report and responded to the many questions raised by members of
the Committee. The valuable additional information provided by
the State party's representative and his competence in matters
concerning the Covenant facilitated an open, frank and fruitful
dialogue between the Committee and the State party.
B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes the restoration of democracy in Uruguay
and the efforts to restore respect for human rights made by the
two administrations that have governed the country since the return
of civilian rule. The Committee notes with satisfaction the notable
progress achieved during the period under examination in bringing
domestic law into line with the provisions of the Covenant. Considerable
progress has been achieved 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 passage of the new
Press Bill (Act No. 16,099 of 24 October 1989) containing guarantees
for freedom of expression. The creation of a new organ (Fiscalía
Nacional de la Policía) to investigate human rights abuses committed
by the police is another welcome development.
5. The Committee also welcomes the holding of the first national
course in Uruguay on the implementation of human rights instruments
and the recent adherence by Uruguay to the Second Optional Protocol
on the abolition of the death penalty.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the
6. The Committee notes that the civilian Governments have had
to overcome the authoritarian legacy of the military regime, while
dealing, at the same time, with deeply rooted social and economic
D. Principal subjects of concern
7. The Committee expresses once again its deep concern on the
implications for the Covenant of the Expiry Law. In this regard,
the Committee emphasizes the obligation of States parties, under
article 2 (3) of the Covenant, to ensure that all persons whose
rights or freedoms have been violated shall have an effective
remedy as provided through recourse to the competent judicial,
administrative, legislative or other authority. The Committee
notes with deep concern that the adoption of the Law effectively
excludes in a number of cases 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 is particularly
concerned that the adoption of the Law has impeded follow-up on
its views on communications. Additionally, the Committee is particularly
concerned that, in adopting the Law, the State party has contributed
to an atmosphere of impunity which may undermine the democratic
order and give rise to further grave human rights violations.
This is especially distressing given the serious nature of the
human rights abuses in question.
8. The Committee expresses 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 to article 4 of the Covenant.
Additionally, there is no mention in the relevant provision of
the Constitution of non-derogable rights.
9. The Committee notes with concern that the regulations relating
to pre-trial detention are not in conformity with article 9 of
the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee underlines that, in
accordance with the principle of the presumption of innocence,
release should be the rule and not the exception as is the case
under the current system. The Committee also notes with concern
that, while there is no systematic use of torture, there are occurrences
of serious maltreatment of detainees. Such occurrences indicate
a lack of proper training of prison and law enforcement officials
and an inadequate understanding of international standards concerning
the treatment of detainees.
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 the
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.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
11. The Committee emphasizes the obligation of the State party
under article 2 (3) of the Covenant to ensure that victims of
past human rights violations have an effective remedy. In order
to discharge that obligation under the Covenant, the Committee
recommends that the State party adopt a legislation to correct
the effects of the Expiry Law.
12. The Committee recommends that the State party continue in
its efforts to harmonize domestic laws with the provisions of
the Covenant. In particular, procedures for dealing with remedies
should be reviewed. The Committee also recommends the establishment
of an impartial and independent authority to monitor the application
of human rights standards and to receive complaints of abuses.
Greater publicity should be given to the Covenant and the Optional
Protocol to ensure that the provisions of these instruments are
widely known to members of the legal profession, the judiciary
and law enforcement officials, as well as to the general public.
Adequate follow-up should also be ensured with respect to the
views adopted by the Committee on individual cases considered
under the Optional Protocol.
13. The Committee suggests that detention procedures should be
revised with a view to facilitating a full application of the
rights provided for under the Covenant. In particular, the penal
procedure should be reformed so that it is based on the principle
of the presumption of innocence. The State party should ensure
that adequate remedies are available with regard to habeas
corpus under article 9 of the Covenant. There should be significantly
less reliance on the use of pre-trial detention, particularly
in view of the fact that some abuses in detention have occurred.
Legislation and procedures concerning the use of firearms by police
should be reviewed and additional training in human rights norms
should be provided for police and other law enforcement officials.
14. The Committee suggests that special measures should be taken
to protect minorities as provided for under article 27 of the
15. 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 might hinder
the full enjoyment of article 19 of the Covenant. In this regard,
the law is not adequate.
1/ At its 1232nd meeting (forty-seventh session), held
on 8 April 1993.