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TITLE:  URUGUAY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            URUGUAY


Uruguay is a constitutional republic with an elected president, 
a bicameral legislature, and an independent judicial branch.  
Former President Julio Maria Sanguinetti won a narrow victory 
on November 27, the third election following the end of the 
military government.  He will replace President Luis Alberto 
Lacalle on March 1, 1995.

The Interior Ministry administers the country's police 
departments and the prison system and is responsible for 
domestic security and public safety matters.  Elements of the 
police continue to be responsible for human rights abuses.

The economy is a mixture of private enterprise and state 
entities and is heavily dependent on agricultural exports and 
agroindustry.  Private property rights are respected.  The 
economy grew by an estimated 4 percent in 1994; per capita 
gross domestic product was approximately $4,750.

The principal human rights problems continue to be police abuse 
and maltreatment of prisoners.  After some improvement in 1993, 
prison conditions deteriorated, and the lack of professionalism 
in police ranks remains a problem.  Levels of violence against 
women remain high, and neither police nor judicial authorities 
deal with it effectively.  Societal discrimination against the 
small black minority is also a problem.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of politically motivated killings.

In August, after a government decision to extradite three 
alleged members of the Spanish Basque terrorist group ETA, 
Uruguayan sympathizers demonstrated in support of the three's 
claim to asylum.  When police tried to break up groups of 
demonstrators, violent clashes errupted.  One demonstrator was 
killed, another 60 were injured; about 30 policemen were 
injured, 1 of them seriously.  In spite of initial reports to 
the contrary, it appears that most of the gunshots came from 
the police.  Leftist political groups and Amnesty International 
accused the police of using excessive force, and the Government 
assigned a judge to conduct a full investigation.  The final 
report of the investigation is due to be released in February 
of 1995.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits brutal treatment of prisoners, but 
elements of the police continue to commit such abuses.  Human 
rights monitors assert that many cases of abuse go unreported, 
hence the problem may be more serious than it appears.  The 
judicial and parliamentary branches of government are 
responsible for investigating specific allegations of abuse.  
The authorities charged several police officers with 
mistreatment of prisoners or abuse of their office, including 
one case involving a disabled person who committed suicide in 
his jail cell.  However, as progress on these cases is often 
slow or nonexistent, the courts seldom convicted and punished 
police for such abuse.

Conditions in prisons and juvenile detention facilities 
remained poor, but not life-threatening.  In March the 
Parliament's human rights committee reported that "lack of 
medical assistance, deficient nutrition, overcrowding, enforced 
idleness, mistreatment on the part of guards, alcohol, drugs, 
and corruption" made the country's largest prison 
"uninhabitable."  In June the prisoners rioted and effectively 
destroyed the physical plant of the Libertad prison.  The 
authorities transferred the 900 prisoners housed there to other 
facilities, which only worsened the already overcrowded 
conditions at the other prisons.  Prison escapes, attempted 
escapes, physical deterioration of facilities, and other 
problems increased.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution requires the police to have a written warrant 
issued by a judge before they can make an arrest.  The only 
exception is when the police apprehend a suspect during 
commission of a crime.  The Constitution also provides the 
accused with the right to a judicial determination of the 
legality of detention and requires that the detaining authority 
explain the legal grounds for the detention.  Police may hold a 
detainee incommunicado for 24 hours before presenting the case 
to a judge, at which time the detainee has the right to 
counsel.  If the detainee cannot afford a lawyer, the courts 
appoint a public defender.  The judicial process must begin 
within 48 hours; failure to comply has led to the release of 
accused persons.  If the crime carries a penalty of at least 2 
years in prison, the accused person is confined during the 
judge's investigation of the charges unless the authorities 
agree to release the person on bail, or until the case is 
closed.  The authorities generally respect these constitutional 
provisions in practice.

Forced exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, headed 
by a Supreme Court, which supervises the work of the lower 
courts.  There is a parallel military court system that 
operates under a military justice code.  Two military justices 
sit on the Supreme Court but participate only in cases 
involving the military.  Military justice applies to civilians 
only during a state of war or insurrection.  The Government 
respects the independence of the judiciary.

The prosecutor or the complainant must open all criminal trials 
with a public statement of the charges.  Trial proceedings were 
formerly based on written arguments, which were not normally 
made public, but the defense attorney had access to all 
documents that formed part of the written record.  The legal 
process is now more open and transparent as a result of oral 
argument, introduced in 1990, and now increasingly used 
throughout the system.  There is no legal provision against 
self-incrimination, and a judge may compel the defendant to 
answer any questions the judge poses.  The defense attorney or 
prosecutor may appeal convictions to a higher court which may 
acquit the person of the crime, confirm the conviction, or 
reduce or increase the sentence.

There are no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution provides for the right to privacy.  It states 
that the home is absolutely inviolable at night and may be 
entered and searched only with a judicial warrant and only 
during the day.  It provides equally strong protection for 
private papers and correspondence, and requires a warrant for 
confiscation.  The authorities generally respect these rights 
and safeguards in practice.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, but 
the authorities may abridge these rights if persons are deemed 
to be inciting violence or "insulting the nation" (see below).

All elements of the political spectrum freely express their 
viewpoints in both the print and broadcast media.  Montevideo 
alone has 8 daily newspapers and 6 important weeklies; there 
are also approximately 100 weekly and a few daily newspapers 
throughout the country.  Montevideo has one government-
affiliated and three commercial television stations.  There are 
about 110 radio stations and 20 television stations in the 
country.

A 1989 law stipulates that expression and communication of 
thoughts and opinions are free, within the limits contained in 
the Constitution and the law, and outlines methods of 
responding to "inexact or aggravating information."  The law 
calls for 3 months' to 2 years' imprisonment for "knowingly 
divulging false news that causes a grave disturbance to the 
public peace or a grave prejudice to economic interests of the 
State" or for "insulting the nation, the State, or their 
powers."  The authorities use this law intermittently to set  
and enforce certain limits on freedom of the press.  After the 
August demonstration in support of the alleged ETA members, the 
Government accused two radio stations of inciting the 
demonstrators to violence.  The President revoked the license 
of a station operated by the Tupamaros--an active urban 
terrorist group during the 1960's which now functions as a 
legitimate political faction--and suspended the license of 
another station for 48 hours.

In October a court sentenced a businessman to 12 months in 
prison (suspended) after he blamed the failure of his business 
on the President of the country and called the President a 
"swindler and a thief."

The national university is autonomous, and the authorities 
respect academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for freedom of assembly and association.  
Groups freely organize and express their opinions.  The law 
requires permits for public marches and demonstrations; the 
Ministry of the Interior issues permits routinely, and 
demonstrations generally occur without official harassment or 
intimidation.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the 
authorities respect it in practice.  Members of all religious 
groups exercise their faiths unhindered, and missionaries are 
free to proselytize.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no restrictions on internal and foreign travel or 
emigration.  Uruguayans who left the country during the 
military regime and wish to return are encouraged to do so.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the right and ability peacefully to change their 
government.  Uruguay is a multiparty democracy with mandatory 
universal suffrage for those 18 years of age or older, and no 
restrictions regarding race, sex, religion, or economic 
status.  The Colorado Party, the National (Blanco) Party, and 
the Broad Front coalition are the three major political 
groupings.  Each allows ideological divisions within the party, 
and each such division may field its own slate of candidates in 
general elections.

In national elections, each party fields different lists of 
candidates; in essence, voters express a preference for a party 
and for a list of candidates rather than for an individual 
candidate.  The winning list of the party that receives the 
most overall votes occupies the Presidency and a proportion of 
seats in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies corresponding to 
the percentage of votes that the party received.  A party 
therefore may run multiple presidential candidates, each with 
his or her own slate of legislative candidates.  In the 
November elections, the Broad Front chose to run only one 
presidential candidate.  This candidate won more popular votes 
than any other candidate in history.  He did not, however, win 
the presidency, since the Colorado Party's four candidates 
received more combined votes.

Blacks and women face de facto impediments to participation in 
politics and employment in government.  In the outgoing 
Government, 6 women held seats in the 99-member Parliament; 
there were no female senators or governors; and only 1 woman 
headed a public entity.  There was one female vice presidential 
candidate in the 1994 elections, but her candidacy ended when 
her presidential running mate withdrew before the election.  
The three women elected to the Senate in 1994 were the first 
directly-elected females in the upper house (others have served 
as substitutes).  Voters elected another seven women to the 
lower house of Parliament.

About 50 percent of Uruguay's judges are women, but they tend 
to be assigned to family and civil courts.  There are no women 
on the Supreme Court; women hold only 17 percent of the 
positions on the second highest court.  A few women are found 
at high levels of the Uruguayan private and public sectors.  
The Socialist Party requires that one-third of its candidates 
be women.  Women are prominent in many government offices at 
the middle levels, but they remain largely marginalized from 
mainstream politics and underrepresented in the highest 
government and political party offices.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Local human rights groups have functioned freely and without 
restriction since the end of military rule in 1985.  The 
Government has responded to U.N. Human Rights Commission 
inquiries concerning the military regime period and is open to 
inquiries from, and does not restrict the activities of, 
domestic and international human rights monitors.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution and the law prohibit discrimination based on 
race, sex, religion, language, or social status.  Despite these 
provisions, de facto discrimination based upon sex and race 
exists.

     Women

Women enjoy equality under the law but face a number of forms 
of discrimination stemming from traditional attitudes and 
practices.  Studies show that the work force remains segregated 
by gender and race.  Women make up almost one-half the work 
force but tend to be concentrated in lower paying jobs.  They 
make up half the students entering universities and often 
pursue professional careers but are underrepresented in 
traditionally male professions.

Violence against women continues to be a severe problem; 
nongovernmental organizations estimate that the actual number 
of cases is probably 10 times the total reported to police.  In 
1988 the Interior Ministry created a Women's Division in the 
police force concerned exclusively with crimes against women.  
Some women's organizations complain that even these special 
police are untrained and lack sensitivity to the problems of 
battered women, and that a woman's ability to make and sustain 
a complaint often depends on the attitude of the judge.

One private shelter for battered women operates in Montevideo.  
The Government began work on a shelter in 1992, but it has not 
yet opened.  Private women's rights groups offer counseling 
services, and the Montevideo municipality operates a 24-hour 
hot line for victims of domestic violence.  In August the 
Education and Culture Minister and the Interior Minister agreed 
to institute a national program for prevention and treatment of 
domestic violence, to be administered by the National Institute 
of Women and the police.

     Children

Although the Government is committed to protecting the rights 
and welfare of children, there continue to be some reports of 
police abuse of detained minors.  Government action to deal 
with these reports is slow or nonexistent.  Approximately 
20 percent of the national budget was designated for 
pre-university education in 1994; in November voters rejected a 
constitutional referendum requiring that at least 27 percent of 
the national budget be earmarked for all types of education.

A local human rights group estimates that there are 
approximately 1,400 street children in Montevideo.  There are 
another 70 in the city's juvenile institutions.  Early in the 
year, a judge ordered the closure of Miguelete, the largest 
male detention center, because of its harsh conditions.  The 
detainees, ranging in age from 14 to 18, were transferred to 
another facility; they later rioted and destroyed that center.  
The Government then moved all 53 detainees back to Miguelete, 
where they remained at the end of the year.  The authorities 
filed charges of mistreatment against two of Miguelete's 
directors after the riot, but subsequently dropped them, and 
the accused returned to their duties.  Miguelete has no 
educational, rehabilitation, or recreation facilities.  
Thirty-two female detainees were housed in another facility, 
which does have educational and recreation facilities.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country's black minority, approximately 6 percent of the 
population, or 180,000 people, enjoys equality under the law 
but faces societal discrimination.  A 1993 report put the 
number of black university graduates at 65, and black 
professionals at fewer than 50.  Blacks are practically 
unrepresented in the bureaucratic, political, and academic 
sectors of society.  They lack the educational opportunities 
and social and political connections necessary for entry into 
these groups.  Most citizens do not recognize that 
discrimination against minorities is a problem, and the 
Government has not taken action to deal with this problem.

     People with Disabilities

The legislature passed a law covering the rights of the 
disabled in 1989, but the Government has not implemented it.  
It does not mandate accessibility to existing buildings or 
public services for people with disabilities; new public 
buildings will be required to have such access.  The law is 
mostly declarative, i.e., it does not stipulate specific 
remedial measures or sanctions for not complying with these 
measures.  The law requires that 4 percent of public sector 
jobs be reserved for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution states that laws should promote the 
organization of trade unions and the creation of arbitration 
bodies.  In spite of this provision, there is almost a complete 
lack of regulation of union activities.  Unions traditionally 
organize and operate free of government regulation.  Civil 
servants, employees of state-run enterprises, and private 
enterprise workers may join unions.  An estimated 12 percent of 
the work force is unionized.  Labor unions are independent of 
political party control but have traditionally been more 
closely associated with the Broad Front, the leftist political 
coalition.

The Constitution also provides workers with the right to 
strike, and there was significant strike activity during the 
year.  The Government may legally compel workers to work during 
a strike if their work is considered an essential service.  An 
essential service is defined as one whose interruption "could 
cause a grave prejudice or risk, provoking suffering to part or 
all of the society."

There are no restrictions on a union's right to form 
confederations or affiliate with international trade union 
bodies, but the only union confederation is by choice not 
officially affiliated with any of the world federations.  Some 
individual unions are affiliated with international trade 
secretariats.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining between companies and their unions 
determines most private sector salaries.  The executive branch, 
acting independently or through tripartite salary councils it 
convokes, determines public sector salaries.  In December 1993, 
the Ministry of Labor and the public service unions signed an 
agreement indexing salary increases to inflation which covers 
most public service employees until March 1995; this resulted 
in less strike activity in the public sector.

There are no laws prohibiting antiunion discrimination; 
however, a 1993 executive decree established fines for 
employees engaging in antiunion activities.  The law does not 
require employers to reinstate workers fired for union 
activities.  However, in cases of legal challenges by union 
activists, courts tend to impose indemnization higher than the 
normal payment for dismissed workers.

While no institutionalized mechanism exists for resolving 
workers' complaints against employers, the law generally 
prohibits discrimination by employers, including arbitrary 
dismissals for union activity.  The International Labor 
Organization (ILO), in a 1992 decision, noted the lack of 
statutory provisions in this area, and said that the current 
system of protection against antiunion practices does not 
infringe ILO Convention 98 on the right to organize and bargain 
collectively, but "could be improved in so far as accelerating 
the procedure."

All labor legislation fully covers workers employed in 
Uruguay's five special export zones.  There are no unions in 
any of these zones, but there are as yet relatively few workers 
in traditionally organizable occupations.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and 
there is no evidence of its existence.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Child Labor Code protects children; violations are 
punishable by fines of up to $500.  The Ministry of Labor is 
responsible for enforcing the code, and illegal child labor is 
not a problem.  The law generally does not permit children 
under 15 years of age to work, but 12-year-olds may be employed 
if they have a special permit.  Children under the age of 18 
may not perform dangerous, fatiguing, or night work.  Controls 
over salaries and hours for children are more strict than those 
for adults.  Children over the age of 16 may sue in court for 
payment of wages, and children have the legal right to dispose 
of their own income.  However, many children work as street 
vendors in the expanding informal sector or in the agrarian 
sector; they are generally less strictly regulated and receive 
lower pay.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

A legislated minimum monthly wage, adjusted and enforced by the 
Ministry of Labor, is in effect.  The minimum wage is adjusted 
whenever public sector wages are adjusted, usually once every 
4 months.  The minimum wage was about $84 (475 pesos) per month 
at the end of the year.  It functions more as an index for 
calculating wage rates than as a true measure of minimum 
subsistence levels, and does not provide a decent standard of 
living for a worker and family.

The standard workweek is 48 hours in industry and 44 hours in 
commerce, with a 36-hour break each week.  The law stipulates 
that industrial workers receive overtime compensation for work 
in excess of 48 hours and that workers are entitled to 20 days 
of paid vacation after a year of employment.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security enforces legislation 
regulating health and safety conditions in a generally 
effective manner.  Some labor regulations cover urban 
industrial workers more adequately than rural and agricultural 
workers.  After several serious accidents and work stoppages to 
protest the lack of safety standards in the construction 
industry, the Ministry initiated a public service campaign, 
with newspaper and television announcements, urging better 
workplace safety practices.


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[end of document]

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