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Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.43, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Uruguay, Doc. 19 corr. 1 (1978).


 

 

CHAPTER VII

RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY AND OF ASSOCIATION

American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man – Article XXI. Every person has the right to assemble peaceably with others in a formal public meeting or an informal gathering, in connection with matters of common interest of any nature.

Article XXII. Every person has the right to associate with others to promote, exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political, economic, religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or other nature.1

1. Decree Nº 466/973, of June 27, 1973, ordered that the right of assembly in public or private places for “political” purposes may only be exercised with prior authorization. The Commission notes in this regard that a number of denunciations have been received indicating that Government authorities have abruptly interrupted gatherings held to celebrate family birthdays, under the pretext that such meetings have not been authorized beforehand. Furthermore, Decree Nº 1.207/973, of November 30, 1975, states that students may not hold meetings “in open or closed places, be they public or private” without first obtaining prior authorization.

2. Resolution 1.473 of August 24, 1973, a simple administrative act, prohibited inter-union meetings for an unspecified period of time. According to communications received by the Commission, this resolution is still in effect.

3. It has been repeatedly denounced to the Commission that in application of the norms cited above, the Government of Uruguay has conducted massive roundups of workers and has detained them, accusing them of suspected subversive activities.

4. With regard to the right of association, a religious association denounced that:

There are countless cases of arbitrary interference on the part of the Government in the life of private institutions and associations. A number of professional guilds and associations (for example, the Bar Association, the Architecture Society, the Association of Odontology, the Writer's Guild, and so on) are unable to conduct their elections freely because the Government interferes by vetoing certain candidates.

5. The Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Office recently received denunciations from Uruguay on the situation of trade unions in that country. In response to the Committee's request that the Government provide information, the latter communicated the following information:

National Union of Metal and Allied Unions (UNTMRA): its premises remain closed and unoccupied because it has been proved that the activities carried on there were illicit, had nothing to do with trade unionism and were contrary to the legal provisions in force;

State Electricity and Telecommunications Workers Union (AUTE): the same applies.

Union of Workers in the Timber and Allied Industries (SOIMA): closed by military court order because the activities carried on there were in support of subversive organizations and a cache of clandestine material had been found;

Single Union of the National Ports Administration (SUANP): no trade union activity is carried out on the premises mentioned; for some three years they have been occupied by a worker of the National Ports Administration in pursuance of a resolution of the union executive;

Federation of State Water Service Officials (OSE): its premises have been closed and their furniture and effects transferred to the union affiliated to the General Confederation of Workers of Uruguay;

Association of Uruguayan Bank Employees (AEBU): no action was taken by the authorities regarding its premises, where cultural, social and sporting activities are still carried out normally;

Union of Workers in the Catering Trade: this union has no premises of its own and its members meet at the headquarters of the Cosmopolitan Union of Waiters and Allied Professions, which has not been subject to any intervention by the authorities;

Montevideo Primary Teachers' Co-ordination Movement: this organization has no premises of its own and carries out its activities on the premises of the Uruguayan Primary Teachers' Federation;

Uruguayan Medical Association: as regards the placing of the union under official supervision, the Government refers to its earlier statements, according to which this measure was taken only with respect to the medical care centre of the organization, was taken for economic reasons and to assist the centre, and did not affect the professional activities of the Association.2 *

6. For its part, the Governing Body of the Committee on Freedom of Association of the ILO, at its 201st meeting held in November 1976, adopted a report from that Committee, whose conclusions include the following:

To express its concern that no progress had been made regarding the trade union situation;

To draw the attention of the Government to the need to create a normal trade union situation in Uruguay as quickly as possible, and to adopt trade union legislation in conformity with the Convention ratified by Uruguay and taking into account the comments made by the ILO supervisory bodies; to request the Government to forward detailed information concerning the action taken to this effect;

To note the release of trade unionists and the details supplied by the Government concerning the reasons for arresting certain detained persons, but to urge the Government to supply more detailed information on the specific actions with which numerous other trade unionists still being detailed were charged, together with copies of any judgment rendered and the reasons adduced therefor;

To draw the attention of the Government once more to the principle that in all cases, including those in which trade unionists are charged with offences of a political nature or under common law, which the Government considers to have no bearing on their trade union functions or activities, the persons concerned should be tried as rapidly as possible by an impartial and independent judicial authority.3 *

7. The impossibility of conducting an observation “in loco” deprived the Commission of the most direct means to determine whether (or not) the facts contained in that Resolution are true.

 

Notes____________________

1 American Convention on Human Rights. Article 15.

The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights or freedom of others.

Article 16.

1. Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological, religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports, or other purposes.

2. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a democratic society, in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.

3. The provisions of this article do not bar the imposition of legal restrictions, including even deprivation of the exercise of the right of association, on members of the armed forces and the police.

2 Governing body of the ILO, 167th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association, G.B. 202/8/13, March 1-4, 1977, p. 3.

* Free-unofficial translation by the ILO.

3 Ibid, p. 2

* Free-unofficial translation by the ILO.

 



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