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Committee on Rights of Child examines reports of Uruguay under Convention, on children in armed conflict and sale of children

20 January 2015

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined third to fifth periodic report of Uruguay on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its initial reports under the Optional Protocols on children and armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Presenting the reports, Alejandra Costa, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that Uruguay attached great importance to protecting the rights of the child and to cooperating with international human rights mechanisms in that regard. Uruguay was in the process of ratifying the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure and had extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Uruguay still needed to take more measures to further its implementation of the Convention and its protocols, and was ready to hear the views of the Committee on how to achieve better protection of the rights of the child.

In the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts raised concerns about the high number of children living in poverty and about discrimination against them. Experts raised a series of questions about access to education for children, including children with disabilities and children living in poverty. Concerns were raised about the increase of detention for juvenile offenders, particularly in light of allegations of police brutality in detention facilities. Experts regretted that alternative sentences were not sufficiently applied.

Under the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, Committee Experts regretted that there was no formal prohibition of recruiting children in the armed forces in the domestic legislation. They also underlined the importance of training activities to prevent the enrolment of children even in situations where there was no armed conflict.

On the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Committee Experts regretted that the definitions of offenses under the Protocol had not all been fully integrated into the domestic legislation. Experts expressed concerns about courts having a large discretionary power as to whether or not to prosecute cases of trafficking.

In concluding remarks, Sara Oviedo, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, underlined that the institutionalization of children had to be avoided, and that children had to be kept with their families as much as possible. She stressed the need for monitoring and establishing accountability mechanisms for services affecting children.

Hatem Kotrane, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, in concluding remarks, welcomed the openness and honesty of the delegation and said recommendations would certainly be made on the issues of juvenile justice, institutionalization and violence against children.

Ms. Costa, in concluding remarks, said that the dialogue had been very useful in identifying areas where more efforts were needed. The ratification of international instruments was only the beginning of a long course that had to lead to proper implementation on the ground. The Government would now inform civil society and other stakeholders on the outcome of the dialogue, and would broadly disseminate the recommendations of the Committee.

The delegation of the Uruguay included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Social Development, the National Parliament, the Child and Adolescent Institute, the Adolescent Criminal Responsibility System and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 21 January at 10 a.m. to continue its consideration of the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of Colombia (CRC/C/COL/4-5) in Chamber A and to begin its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Iraq under the Convention (CRC/C/IRQ/2-4) and its initial reports under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPSC/IRQ/1) and the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/IRQ/1) in Chamber B.

Reports

The combined third to fifth periodic report of Uruguay under the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be read via the following link: CRC/C/URY/3-5. The initial reports of Turkmenistan under the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, can be read via the following links: CRC/C/OPAC/URY/1 and CRC/C/OPSC/URY/1 respectively.

Presentation of the Report

ALEJANDRA COSTA, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that Uruguay attached great importance to protecting the rights of the child and to cooperating with international human rights mechanisms in that regard. Uruguay was in the process of ratifying the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure and had extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. A part of the population’s views on juvenile offenders had gotten more severe, she said, as illustrated by the proposal for a Constitutional amendment which intended to change the minimum age for criminal responsibility from 18 to 16. This amendment was subjected to a referendum and did not receive enough support, showing that the population remained divided on this issue. The Government was committed to avoid that the debate on juvenile justice led to the stigmatization of children in conflict with the law. Uruguay still needed to take more measures to further its implementation of the Convention and its protocols, and was ready to hear the views of the Committee on how to achieve better protection of the rights of the child.

Questions from the Experts

SARA OVIEDO, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, congratulated Uruguay for the progress made, including its decision to become party to the third Optional Protocol on a communication procedure, and for initiating the referendum mentioned by the Head of Delegation. She said children in Uruguay were among the poorest groups in the country, a situation which triggered most of the violations of their rights. She asked whether the Government of Uruguay had evaluated the results of the Plan for 2010-2015, and whether the 2015–2020 Plan would include new measures to better implement the provisions of the Convention, including coordinating and data gathering measures.

The care system had not started working yet because of a lack of financing, she noted. What was being done on child care to address the needs of children and adolescents? The national institute for human rights did not seem to have the necessary resources to be functioning. Did this body have a child rights division? Would the necessary financial and staff resources be made available for its functioning? Civil society also needed to be better involved in the development and implementation of measures relating to children. Would Uruguay consider developing a single system for dealing with children? This would allow for the better implementation of the Convention, including better information gathering on the situation of children. In terms of training and the dissemination of information on the Convention, the Rapporteur regretted that measures taken by the Government were unsufficient. She regretted that decisions had been taken about children without their participation, and asked whether there had been progress regarding the Advisory Units that ought to be set up in all school facilities.

A law on audio-visual communication services had just been approved, she said. What control mechanisms were in place in terms of internet access for children? Uruguay had a very high number of children living in institutions, she noted. Implementation of programmes to better support families, and therefore avoid separation and institutionalization, was lacking, Ms. Oviedo regretted. What was the status of the new programme on family care? Would it include monitoring aspects? What had the Government done to change the fact that judges used institutionalization as a priority?

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, said that the Committee welcomed efforts made by Uruguay, and looked forward to supporting the Government’s efforts. On the definition of the child, he noted that the legal age to marry in Uruguay was 16, and underlined that this was considered early marriage by the Committee. The age of marriage should be raised at 18, he said. The Ombudsman was a collegial body comprising five members, Mr. Kotrane noted. How many of these members were child rights experts? Mr. Kotrane said that the budget allocated to children had to be better defined, and particularly with regards to combatting child poverty.

Children living in poverty were discriminated against in terms of access to education and the administration of justice. What measures were being taken to bring children out of poverty and to address this discrimination? The Rapporteur also referred to discrimination against children from other categories, including children of African descent, and asked what was being done to address the root causes of discrimination.

He then expressed concerns that torture and police brutality occurred in Uruguay, and about the lack of complaints mechanisms made available to victims of such violence. Gender violence was a problem in Uruguay and it affected women and children. Domestic and sexual violence had not been sufficiently addressed by the Government, he added. Victims of sexual violence lacked support, and few cases had been properly investigated. Finally, corporal punishment was prohibited by law. What happened when someone did actually punish a child in this way?

A National Plan of Action had been developed to promote the implementation of the Convention, an Expert noted. What was the status of this plan? Were civil society organizations and children involved in the development and implementation of this plan?

On the legislative framework, an Expert welcomed that Uruguay had ratified almost all core international human rights treaties, and welcomed that Uruguay seemed to be deeply committed to collaborating with international mechanisms, as illustrated by the quality of the reports submitted by it to the Committee. Would Uruguay ratify the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers? Had the Convention on the Rights of the Child been directly invoked before domestic courts in Uruguay? Were judges properly trained to raise provisions of the Convention during cases?

An Expert asked whether sufficient criteria had been set out to ensure that the principle of the best interest of the child was given due consideration by judges.

Response by the Delegation

The Action Plan for 2014 on Childhood and Adolescence’s implementation had been evaluated, a delegate said. Progress had been made in terms of the goals established by the Public Health Ministry regarding maternal mortality. Maternal deaths were increasingly being prevented, thanks to more and more women giving birth in hospitals. Abortion allowed women to avoid undesired pregnancies. The next Action Plan would include measures on nutrition, one delegate affirmed. The National Care System gave particular attention to early childhood issues, including coordination. Special training was now provided to staff working on early childhood issues. Over the past five years, the Government had succeeded in providing free and compulsory education for all children aged between four and five. Progress had been made on adolescents, although a large number of adolescents still lacked access to primary and secondary education. The Government and civil society had been working on guidelines on children’s rights, based on which an Action Plan for 2015-2020 would be drawn up.

Relating to the definition of a child, a delegate said that any human under 18 was considered a child. The Code on Childhood, adopted in 2004, had been inspired by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was understood that lowering the minimum age for criminal responsibility was in violation of the Convention. A special protection system for juvenile offenders was in place. A new penal code would put all the age requirements in the law in line with the Convention. With regards to marriage, Uruguay was committed to raise the minimum age to 18.

On juvenile justice, a delegate said that children in conflict with the law could face alternative measures to imprisonment.

The Personal Integrity Law, which prohibited corporal punishment, was included in the Code on Childhood and Adolescence. Guidelines were adopted, and awareness raising campaigns were undertaken, to change mind-sets on corporal punishment. Although the law did not provide for specific sanctions for using corporal punishment, perpetrators of such violence could be easily punished under the criminal legislation. The Personal Integrity Law was contested during its adoption, a delegate said, and had triggered a number of debates. This had led to great awareness among the population, including children, on the prohibition of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment in prison would be considered an abuse of authority and perpetrators would face criminal sanctions. In a family setting, children could be removed from their families in case of corporal punishment. Training had been undertaken for law enforcement personnel on how to prevent and address cases of abuse against children.

The protection system was much broader than what was provided for by the care system. There was a high number of children living in institutions, a delegate admitted. Uruguay had worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund to implement alternative measures and end institutionalization being used as a priority. The law on adoption in Uruguay categorized children depending on what their care needs were.

On adoption, there was no longer any legal discrimination between children born inside or outside of wedlock. Children were considered legitimate regardless of their parents’ age. Children adopted by homosexual couples had the same rights as any other child, the delegation added.

In response to the question relating to the dissemination of the Convention, a delegate said that a number of measures had been undertaken to raise awareness on the rights of the child, and to train personnel involved with children on parenthood and on the provisions of the Convention.

Follow-up Questions from the Experts

A Committee Expert said that problems relating to adoption remained, resulting from the shortage of technical staff and resources available to deal with this issue.

Children with disabilities did not seem to attend school for the most part, and inclusive education did not seem to be the general rule. Would Uruguay make more efforts to better include children with disabilities not only in schools, but also in education and other aspects of society?

On education, there were high dropout rates, particularly among girls of African descent, an Expert noted. Was there any effort made to address this issue and improve access to secondary level education? Completion rates at the secondary level were low as well, Experts noted. Experts said that a National Action Plan on Education might be needed, with short, medium and long term goals. An Expert asked what opportunities existed for child participation in the school setting.

About health, an Expert welcomed that efforts had been made to improve access to health services for mothers and children, including in remote areas. The Expert inquired on whether efforts were being made to prevent early pregnancies. Was there any support provided to girls who decided to terminate their pregnancies? What were the trends and numbers regarding abortion? Regarding HIV/AIDS, an Expert welcomed the fact that antiretroviral treatments were made universally accessible. Congenital syphilis seemed to be increasing, an Expert noted. Were any measures being taken in that regard? With regards to breastfeeding, an Expert noted that the national rule was not implemented. The breast milk bank received donations from Nestlé, one Expert noted, which could lead to situations of conflict of interest. The delegation was asked to give more information on figures relating to adolescents and drugs.

On juvenile offenders, an Expert said that the police did not seem to respect the law prohibiting violence against children in detention. What was the justice’s response to such cases? Also, an Expert regretted that alternative sentences did not seem to be used enough. The juvenile justice system appeared to focus too much on repression, an Expert said. A consequence of this was a huge overcrowding in juvenile prisons. In addition, there was no limitation on the time during which children in conflict with the law could be held in pre-trial detention, Experts said. Would measures be taken to address these issues? What measures existed for the reinsertion of juvenile offenders into society?

An Expert raised the issue of child labour and the exploitation of children, which still existed, sometimes in its worst form, in Uruguay. Were social measures for reintegrating street children being implemented? An Expert noted that coordination between agencies dealing with street children did not seem to be working. What measures were being undertaken to address the needs of unaccompanied migrant children?

An Expert asked what was being done to protect the right to play and to cultural life for children.

On detention conditions, an Expert asked what the situation of pregnant women in detention was. What measures were in place to address the needs of children who had parents in detention? Was house arrest a possibility in such cases?

On juvenile justice, an Expert noted that the number of children deprived of their liberty was close to 496 in 2013, in an environment meant for accommodating 300 children at the most. Were any measures intended to address this issue of overcrowding in juvenile detention facilities? What alternative sentences were in place? Experts referred to conclusions by the Committee against Torture on alleged violence perpetrated by police officers against children in detention. Experts were also concerned about figures showing an increase in detention sentences for children, which showed that alternative measures were not sufficiently applied. Experts emphasized the need to consider alternative measures to address overcrowding and police brutality.

Relating to participation, an Expert asked whether procedures were being applied for judges to be encouraged to hear children’s views.

An Expert asked for more information on the coordination of health services among the different providers.

An Expert also asked what measures were being taken to ensure access to drinkable water and sanitation.

Response by the Delegation

The budget allocations were defined by sectors, a delegate explained. Their preparation was distributed between Ministries. The share of social spending devoted to children and adolescents had increased and represented the main part of the State’s budget. Since the social protection reform of 2005, all children without exception were covered. Families could receive direct subsidies according to their income. It was important to ensure the reliability of investments in childhood, the delegation said. As it was, the depth of reforms adopted in recent years could hardly be challenged by another government. The National Strategy for Childhood for the next five years would build on lessons learned from the implementation of the previous plan.

A national survey on child labour had been carried out in 2009, with the support of the International Labour Organization. This survey showed that 9.9 per cent of children between 9 and 17 were working. Fifteen was the minimum age to work in Uruguay, in accordance with international standards. Among these children workers, most of them were domestic workers working in their own home. Uruguay was deeply involved in the negotiations on the International Labour Organization Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers and was among the first countries to ratify it. Adolescents working between the age of 15 and 18 benefited from special protection under the law, and could only receive a work permit for activities that were not harmful or dangerous. Work permits were mandatory, and employers were at fault in case of failure to deliver them.

Schooling had an impact on eliminating child labour. Schooling was obligatory at the age of 4. By the ages of 5 and 6, Uruguay had 100 per cent education enrolment rate. Child labour was more of an issue affecting adolescents. Education was compulsory from the age of four until the age of 17 or 18. Since 2005, measures were being taken to avoid dropouts and ensure attendance at primary schools. Psychological counselling and other types of support were provided to children who had dropped out and to encourage children to remain in schools. Pregnant adolescents had a right to continue education and were assisted in this regard. They had the possibility to study from home if they so desired, or benefited special flexibility from their schools.

On the issue of inequality, Uruguay had recently amended its social protection system, with a particular positive impact for children and adolescents in terms of access to health, education and other social services. The reform also intended to address inequality between girls and boys. Parents with new-born children benefited from parental leave. Men were encouraged to take greater responsibility in the education of their children. Uruguay was committed to combatting poverty, and had taken a series of economic measures in that regard. Policy measures were also being taken to address inequality between the rich and the poor, for example in terms of access to education. The economic growth since 2005 provided opportunities for progress in protecting the rights and welfare of children. The number of children living in poverty had been considerably reduced over the past 10 years, although too many still remained in this situation.

On alternative care, Uruguay attached importance to avoiding the separation of children from their families. Financial support was provided to families, and Uruguay had been adopting a cross-cutting approach in recent years to strengthen its services for children and their families.

The National Human Rights Institute of Uruguay had five members, and had received all guarantees of independence since its creation. Its budget had been recently increased at the request of its members, who were deeply committed and competent, including in the field of children’s rights. The General Assembly for Human Rights met every year in different parts of the country.

On juvenile justice, human rights training had been provided to members of the judiciary, one delegate said. Although imprisonment for children in conflict with the law should be a measure of last resort, it was not implemented that way in practice, a delegate said. More efforts had to be made to ensure that alternative sentences were applied on a more regular basis. New budget allocations had allowed the creation of new places for children deprived of their liberty. Three regional centres had been built in remote areas, to avoid overcrowding and allow children to be held in a location that was closer to their families.

The participation council, established in 2008, allowed for children’s participation. Progress was still needed in this area, a delegate noted. In the next five-year plan, the Government would need to increase areas for children’s participation. Uruguay had recognized the importance of children being heard when receiving healthcare. Children and adolescents were heard by judges in cases directly or indirectly affecting them.

The Ministry of Public Health had implemented healthcare reforms. Prevention strategies had been implemented to prevent anaemia, including programmes for early diagnostic and treatment during pregnancies. A law on healthy food in school had been adopted, and it contained measures for education on good eating habits. In 2014, new legislation introduced monitoring of school canteens. The Public Health Ministry had been implementing the National Children and Adolescent Care Programme, through which the standards for healthcare were defined. Sexual and reproductive health services had been established in teenage health centres. There, teenagers received educational support and could obtain birth control. Teenagers had access to voluntary interruption of pregnancies under the law. Contraceptives were free of charge in these health centres. An Impact Plan was introduced on HIV/ AIDS and syphilis, strengthening the role of the Ministry of Public Health with regards to prevention and education. Child friendly hospitals encouraged breastfeeding, and a strategy was developed to promote breastfeeding in early months of care.

Questions from the Experts relating to the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

An Expert asked whether data collecting systems were in place to measure the effectiveness of the State’s response to offenses dealt with in the Optional Protocol.

It was noted that sexual exploitation was legally criminalized. Experts noted however that some Courts were challenging the provisions of the law and were allowed by the law not to prosecute some allegations of exploitation of children. Were any measures envisaged to reduce this discretion for judges for such grave offenses?

An Expert said that the definitions of offenses under the Optional Protocol had not all been fully integrated into the domestic legislation of Uruguay. This was for example the case for illegal adoption or the detention of perpetrators of child pornography. Was it possible to charge someone for possession of child pornography? Criteria for extradition also seemed not to be fully in compliance with the protocol.

An Expert regretted that there seemed to be no structures for assisting and rehabilitating child victims of trafficking, and that police officers seemed not to have been trained on this particular issue.

Questions from the Experts relating to the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict

Experts regretted that there was no formal prohibition of recruiting children in armed forces in the domestic legislation. An Expert asked whether a coordination body existed for activities under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. Experts underlined the importance of training activities to prevent the enrolment of children in armed conflicts, even in situations where there was no armed conflict. An Expert also underlined the need for supervision and punishment, in case of violations under the Optional Protocol. Experts asked whether any support was provided for former child soldiers from other countries.

Response by the Delegation regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

In terms of trafficking and child prostitution, the gathering of data specific to victims of child trafficking was dealt with by a specific body. The judicial system recently drafted a report summarizing prosecutions on cases of trafficking.

A coordinated policy within the MERCOSUR region aimed at raising awareness on combatting trafficking of children and at informing children about their rights. MERCOSUR had also set standards on human trafficking and forced labour, with specific reference to the situation of children. Particular attention was being paid to treat victims as victims and not as criminals.

Follow-up questions from the Experts

An Expert said that obliging child victims of sexual exploitation or trafficking to go before civil courts, in parallel to the criminal proceedings, in order to get reparation led to re-victimizing them. This system had to be changed. Child sex tourism was a really specific crime, and a particular branch of the law enforcement system should be specifically trained to deal with such cases. An Expert asked what services were in place to provide support and rehabilitation to child victims of trafficking.

The efforts made by Uruguay seemed to be more directed against trans-border trafficking than against trafficking at the national level, one Expert observed.

An Expert asked whether there existed an internet surveillance system to detect child pornography. Had Uruguay considered viewing this issue from a “demand” perspective, meaning that some efforts had to be made in order to identify persons having interest in accessing child pornography on the internet?

Experts regretted that persons perpetrating crimes under the protocols abroad could not be prosecuted in Uruguay, and said that the Committee would most definitely make a recommendation in that regard.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said that there was no police body that specifically dealt with sex tourism. The tourist police was located in areas where tourists gathered and it could deal with this subject. In 2014, a campaign against sex tourism was initiated under the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism. No service existed for rehabilitating victims of child trafficking.

Procedures before civil courts were available for victims to receive reparation. Proof did not need to be demonstrated again, and the case built by the victim before a criminal court did not have to be repeated. The recently adopted Procedural Code would come into force in 2017.

On torture, training of judges and police officers needed to be organized to ensure prevention and a better response by the courts. Torture against children and child trafficking remained rather taboo subjects in Uruguay, and the Government was committed to raising awareness on these.

The Government had developed a plan to provide access to computers and tablets to all children. The internet access in those school devices was blocked so that children could not access pornographic or violent content. As to other forms of access, the Interior Ministry had issued a manual for parents on how to limit internet access for their children. People working in the Interior Ministry had been trained at identifying and preventing child pornography on the internet.

Possession of child pornography was not criminalized as such, a delegate said. However, this was a topic that needed more discussion and this would be considered by the Government.

Response by the Delegation regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict

The delegation said that there was no coordination of activities regarding the implementation of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict. The focus of the training of troops engaged in military operations was on peacekeeping activities. The right to peace was incorporated in the curriculum.

Several children in Uruguay were refugees from conflict zones. However there was no indication that any of them had been enrolled in the armed forces. The Government was also unaware of any case of Uruguayan children being involved in armed conflicts elsewhere.

An established protocol on unaccompanied migrant children allowed the provision of services and, whenever necessary, of a lawyer defending them.

Response by the Delegation to remaining issues regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Human rights were included in the Law on Education, which made it a cross-cutting issue of the school curriculum. Human rights were therefore covered throughout several subjects, including history, philosophy and others. The General Plan for Initial and Primary Education had an objective to develop the ability for children to become autonomous. This included raising their awareness on freedom of expression, equality, non-discrimination and other human rights issues. Dissemination of information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been done through multiple campaigns and training. A lot of educational programmes promoted students’ participation. In order to improve the quality of education, Uruguay had been working on improving the status of teachers. Teachers’ trade-unions had been centralized, and salaries had been increased for all State employees, including teachers. Teachers used to be the least well paid among the public personnel, but this was no longer the case. Private sector teachers were however better paid. On early childhood education, universal coverage and mandatory education was set out by law for children aged from four to five. The coverage for children of the age of three was lower, although progress was being made. With regard to one and two-year-old children, Uruguay was in the process of increasing the coverage of day care services.

Disability had only started to be discussed and acknowledged recently. Over the last three years, society had become more and more aware of the needs and vulnerability of persons with disabilities. In education, Uruguay did not have a real national policy to promote interaction and involvement of children with disabilities, although some local initiatives existed. Regarding early stimulation, Uruguay had been able to take preventive actions to identify risks of disabilities. Before going to school, all children under the age of four had to undergo medical tests to ensure timely detection and screening. This went hand in hand with training of human resources dealing with this, and providing the necessary care services to respond to the needs of children with disabilities.

Care services were provided both by the State and civil society organizations. Staff from these services were trained with the support of local organizations and through national campaigns. A hotline was available to receive complaints and reports regarding children in vulnerable situations, and could redirect people to appropriate services. Health services could report cases of abuse against a child in case the family would not bring this up. Uruguay had identified the factors that could potentially lead to child abuse, and had trained staff accordingly. Children in need for temporary care were welcomed in facilities where trained staff took care of them. Institutionalization needed to be avoided, the delegation acknowledged. Processes for family reintegration had been implemented in order to reduce the amount of time spent by children in care facilities.

On adoption, questions had been raised about the slowness of the process. This, according to a delegate, was due to administrative challenges that remained. In 2014, there were 100 cases of adoption, which was rather significant. The time an adoption process took depended on each case. The judge had to look into the case and ensure that all criteria were met, bearing in mind the best interest of the child and of the adopting family. The number of technical staff to address these cases had not been sufficient in 2014 because this was an election year.

Different projects had been conducted through the last 25 years to address the issue of street children. This phenomenon had now considerably reduced. The last survey on the number of street children was in 2012.

On drug abuse by adolescents, a delegate explained that a National Drug Board that included representatives of several ministries was in charge of addressing this issue. Services to provide care for drug users were in place, and policies were changing gradually.

Concluding Remarks

SARA OVIEDO, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, in concluding remarks, said that this had been a very fruitful exchange, and welcomed the openness of the Uruguayan delegation. Now was the time for Latin American countries to push for changes. She underlined that the institutionalization of children had to be avoided, and that attitudes on that had to change. Children had to be kept with their families as much as possible. The system of care had to be equal in providing protection to children. Children were subjects of the law, and their rights had to be guaranteed. She finally insisted on the need for monitoring and for establishing accountability mechanisms for all aspects of the public life affecting children.

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Uruguay, welcomed the openness and honesty of the delegation. Uruguay was doing a lot of things well for the rights of the child, and the Committee would make constructive recommendations to support the efforts of Uruguay. Recommendations would certainly be made on the issues of juvenile justice, institutionalization and violence against children.

ALEJANDRA COSTA, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that the dialogue had been very useful. There were areas where additional progress was needed, and the expertise of the Committee would be very useful for that. The ratification of international instruments was only the beginning of a long course that had to lead to proper implementation on the ground. She emphasized the importance of the work of the Committee as well as the credibility of its membership. The Government would now inform civil society and other stakeholders on the outcome of the dialogue, and would broadly disseminate the recommendations of the Committee.

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