Impunity – justice for past abuses
The Expiry Law of 1986, which grants members of the security forces immunity from prosecution for crimes committed during the military government (1973-1985), remained in force.
Draft legislation which would provide reparations to relatives of victims of human rights violations during the military government was before Congress at the end of the year.
A request for the extradition of former Colonel Juan Manuel Cordero from Brazil for his involvement in human rights violations during the military government, including the murder of Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutíerrez Ruiz remained pending at the end of the year.
In July the Humanities Faculty Anthropology team from the University of the Republic began excavations in the Tablada military compound, searching for the remains of detainees who were the victims of enforced disappearance during the military period.
In September new exhumations began on military premises in search of the remains of Elena Quinteros, a member of the opposition Party for People’s Victory, who was kidnapped from the Venezuelan Embassy in June 1976 by members of the security forces.
In June the Executive excluded 17 cases previously covered by the Expiry Law, including at least five transfers of detainees from Argentina to Uruguay between February and August 1978. In September it also excluded the kidnapping of Nelson Santana and Gustavo Inzaurralde in Paraguay in 1977. The decision paved the way for judicial investigations into these cases. A total of 47 cases of victims of human rights violations have been excluded from the Expiry Law by the current administration.
In September the appeals court confirmed the trial and detention of former President Juan Maria Bordaberry (1971-1976) as co-author of 10 homicides. In December, former President General Gregorio Alvarez (1981-1985) was arrested and charged as co-author of the enforced disappearances of more than 30 people.
Violence against women
Domestic violence resulted in the deaths of at least 17 women between November 2006 and October 2007, according to a report published in November 2007 by the National Observatory on Violence and Crime of the Ministry of Interior.
In June the National Women’s Institute published the First National Plan of Equality on Opportunities and Rights to address discrimination against women.
Health – reproductive rights
In November the Senate passed a bill on reproductive rights which decriminalized abortions carried out within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in certain circumstances. Under existing legislation abortion is punishable by up to nine months imprisonment for the women and two years’ imprisonment for the person carrying out the abortion. The bill was awaiting approval by the Chamber of Deputies at the end of the year.
In a report published in May, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommended that all necessary steps be taken to release Jorge, José and Dante Peirano, held under preventive detention since 2002, while their trial continued. The three men had been released by the end of the year. According to the Minister of Interior, more than 60 per cent of inmates in Uruguayan prisons had not been sentenced.
In July the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its regret at the authorities’ failure to institute a national plan of action on children’s rights and at the lack of an independent institution to which complaints of violations of children’s rights could be referred. It expressed concern about discrimination against children of Afro-descent and about the large numbers of children in detention, some of whom had been tortured or subjected to degrading treatment by law enforcement officials.