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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 (morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Uruguay
Represented by 14-member delegation headed by Mr. Homero Guerrero, Minister to the Presidency for Human Rights

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit
the Uruguay page on the UPR website

Troika *

Burkina Faso, Chile and France

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Uruguay page on the UPR Extranet **)

  • Uruguay has ratified all fundamental treaties for the protection of human rights and their optional protocols. It collaborates with all human rights mechanisms and keeps an open invitation to Special Rapporteurs, as well as to the inter-American human rights mechanisms;
  • The last decade was marked by the most profound economic crisis suffered by the country in its entire history. Unemployment and the degradation of socio-economic conditions generated a serious risk of social and family disintegration, the marginalization of a significant number of Uruguayans and the increase of poverty and indigence, as well as a considerable increase of emigration;
  • This situation exceeded the capacity of the traditional social protection system and constituted one of the biggest threats to the enjoyment of human rights. This required a redefinition of Uruguay’s social protection matrix;
  • The consequences of the crisis were tackled as a real national emergency, through the national assistance plan for social emergency, which allowed to intervene in a determined way on the most disadvantaged segments of the population, to counteract the threats posed by extreme poverty and marginalization;
  • Uruguay also addressed with determination the debt that their society holds with its recent past and the victims of the serious violations of human rights that were committed during the military dictatorship, by taking measures to allow investigations, trials and convictions of those responsible for these crimes;
  • The national division for human rights, which used to be part of the Ministry of Education and Culture, has now moved under the Presidency of the Republic;
  • A national human rights institution was established in line with the Paris Principles. It had begun operating in 2012 and was still in process of accreditation before the International Coordinating Committee;
  • The biggest problem with regard to education is the high rate of school drop outs and repetition in secondary education. Uruguay has continued to adopt new programmes and measures to address this situation;
  • The recent law of equal marriage adopted in April last year, which modified the civil code in order to define marriage as the permanent union between two persons, regardless of their gender or gender identity, made Uruguay one of the first countries in the world granting this right;
  • A law of 2004 declared of national interest the fight against racism, xenophobia and any other form of discrimination. There have also been improvements in the data collection regarding problems associated with the afro-descendant community;
  • The success of policies is reflected in the low unemployment rates that are currently recorded in Uruguay, that amount to 6.2. per cent, the lowest in the country’s history;
  • Important reforms have been implemented to make the penitentiary system more humane in Uruguay. The reclusion conditions have been improved in accordance with the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.

Participants

In total 81 States participated in the dialogue: 30 HRC members and 51 observers  (Statements available on Uruguay page on the UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Uruguay’s commendable record on treaty body reporting;
  • The State’s efforts to improve prison conditions;
  • Efforts to enhance the rights of LGBT persons and same sex couples and the Equal Marriage Act; 
  • Efforts made to protect the rights of women and efforts to combat human trafficking;
  • Measures taken to reduce the rate of poverty in recent years;
  • The appointment by Congress of the Board of Directors of the National Human Rights Institution.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps taken to improve prison conditions and to develop the juvenile justice system;
  • Measures to increase gender parity in society and improve the participation of women in decision-making;
  • Efforts undertaken to protect women from domestic violence and prosecute such acts;
  • Steps taken to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
  • Action taken to effectively combat all forms of racial discrimination;
  • Efforts to address instances of school dropouts. 

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Uruguay.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

    • To continue efforts to improve prison conditions in view of prison overcrowding;  
    • To strengthen efforts to reform its criminal procedure law in order to guarantee a fair and timely legal process and to seek alternatives to pre-trial detention;
    • To continue developing the juvenile justice system and ensure the juvenile detention system was in line with its human rights obligations;
    • To adopt measures to increase gender parity in political and public spheres and improve the participation of women in decision-making and public policy development;
    • To intensify prosecution and preventive measures in order to further protect women from domestic violence and to provide sufficient protection and support for victims including access to shelters and monitoring rehabilitation of person convicted;
    • To generate greater public awareness of gender-based and domestic violence and ensure such acts were investigated and that perpetrators were held accountable;
    • To put in place additional measures to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children and to identify and prosecute suspects and to establish mechanisms for witness protection and access to justice for victims of human trafficking;
    • To guarantee the effective implementation of national legislation to combat racism and discrimination;
    • To pursue efforts to combat discrimination against persons of African descent and ensure they had equal access to education and work;
    • To increase efforts aimed at countering the school dropout rate; 
    • To adopt a comprehensive national plan of action to address the worst forms of child labour;
    • Ratification of human rights instruments:  ILO Convention 169 (indigenous peoples) and the 3rd OP to the CRC (communications).

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Uruguay is scheduled to take place on Friday, 31 January 2014

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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