UN Committee concerned about the lack of a definition of torture in Uruguayan legislation

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The UN Committee against Torture on Friday urged Uruguay to classify the crime of torture in accordance with Article 1 of the Convention against this cruel act.

The Committee, made up of 10 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention, delivered today its conclusions of the fourth periodic report on Uruguay and recognized the constructive dialogue held with the delegation of the State party and the information it provided during the review.

On the positive balance, the Committee’s evaluation valued that Uruguay has ratified or adhered to all the fundamental human rights instruments and their optional protocols and welcomed the adoption of various legislative measures.

Fundamental legal safeguards

The Committee considers that Uruguay must adopt “effective measures” that guarantee that all detainees “enjoy, in law and in practice, all the fundamental safeguards” contemplated by international standards. from the first moment they are deprived of their liberty.

In particular, the exam lists:

  • The right to be promptly assisted by a lawyer
  • To require and have immediate access to an independent doctor and, if possible, of their choice, apart from any medical examination that may be carried out at the request of the authorities
  • To be informed of the reasons for their arrest and the nature of the charges against them in a language they understand; to register your arrest
  • To promptly inform a family member or third party of their arrest, and to be brought before a judge without delay

The South American nation must also:

  • Guarantee the audiovisual recording of the interrogations carried out on persons deprived of liberty
  • Store these recordings in a safe place and under the control of surveillance bodies, and make them available to investigators, detainees and lawyers

Use of force by law enforcement officials

In this section, the Committee calls for the adoption of “legislative and other measures” that guarantee that any use of force by law enforcement officials complies with “the principles of reasonableness, necessity, and proportionality.”

Likewise, it urges to ensure the opening of “prompt, impartial and effective investigations of all complaints related to the excessive use of force by law enforcement and public security agents,” and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice. If found guilty, he asks that they be sentenced according to the seriousness of their acts and that the victims be adequately compensated.

Likewise, efforts will be made to ensure that “all law enforcement officers receive systematic training on the use of force, taking into account the Basic Principles on the Use of Force.”

Conditions in prisons

The body summons Uruguay “to continue advancing in the improvement of prison conditions and reduce overcrowding in penitentiary establishments.” To make it suggests applying measures that do not entail the deprivation of liberty and guarantee respect for the deadlines established for the imposition of preventive detention.

In particular, it calls for urgent measures to be taken to correct the deficiencies in the penitentiary centers, especially in the “supply of water in the cells, the lack of beds, heating and lighting problems, and the poor condition of the electrical installations.”

Outdoor activities, such as physical exercise, rehabilitation and psychosocial activities, should also be allowed.

In the same way, in all freedom prevention centers, the strict separation between preventive inmates and convicted prisoners must be guaranteed.

deaths in custody

The United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed concern this Friday about the increase in the number of deaths recorded in prisons during the period under review, which was 79% in 2021.

The review notes a very high number of deaths “due to lack of medical care and treatment” in people with mental health problems and calls for all deaths during deprivation of liberty to be investigated “impartially by an independent body”.

gender violence

The Committee indicates that the State must “ensure that all cases of gender-based violence, especially those in which there have been actions or omissions by authorities or other entities that give rise to the international responsibility of the State party in accordance with the Convention.”

These incidents must be thoroughly investigated, the alleged perpetrators must be prosecuted and punished when convicted, reparations to the victims or their relatives, and statistical data in this area must be compiled and published.

It must also ensure that victims of gender-based violence receive the medical care, psychological support and legal assistance they need, including access to adequate shelters.

Repair

The Committee reminded Uruguay that, under article 14 of the Convention, it is obliged to guarantee victims of torture “reparation and the right to fair and adequate compensation.”

The State party should systematically collect information on reparation measures granted by national courts to victims of torture and ill-treatment and on the execution of such measures.

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