URUGUAY: OMCT high-level mission calls for swiftimplementation of CAT recommendations
Juvenile Justicereform remains a priority
Geneva-Montevideo,24 April 2015. At the conclusion of a high level mission in Uruguay the OMCTcalls for the new government to prioritize juvenile justice reforms to preventtorture.
“Theoveruse of detention of children and the appalling conditions of detention thatwe found during our visit are clearly inacceptable in a democratic society. It is time that the openness of theauthorities displayed in our visits is translated into reforms that tacklethese long-standing problems”, summarized Carolina Barbara, OMCT Child RightsCoordinator.
The mission intended to followup on the recommendations issued by the UNs primary anti-torture body (the Committeeagainst Torture (CAT) to the Uruguayan government in May 2014. On thatoccasion, the Committee highlighted three areas of principal concern, amongwhich are : (a) to ensure or reinforce safeguards for persons who have beendeprived of liberty and accountability for acts of torture and ill-treatment;(b) to ensure that the juvenile justice system is fully in line withinternational standards; (c) to promptly investigate and ensure accountabilityfor acts of torture in the juvenile justice system and in order to do so ensurethe protection for the victims and witnesses.
The highlevel mission was conducted with the support of OMCT’s local partner, theInstituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales (IELSUR), the Committee on the Rightsof the Child in Uruguay (CDNU), and the Fundación Servicio Paz y Justicia(SERPAJ).
In orderto examine the implementation of the recommendations, the OMCT visited and monitoredthe women’s prison of Montevideo and a number of SIRPA’sjuvenile detention centers. Throughout the visits the OMCT has noticed withconcern some conditions that may amount to inhuman and degrading treatment,such as solitary confinement cells and insanitary conditions of detention. TheOMCT has also received complaints regarding mistreatments, long periods ofconfinement, excessive use of medication in some detention centers, and thepersistence of reprisals towards staff who lodge complaints within SIRPA ordisagree with some of its established practices.
“We are particularly worried about information that employeesof SIRPA formally accused of acts of torture and abuse are simply reassigned toother positions of work within the same system with continuous contact to thedetained children. Equally troublesomeis the information that employees who denounce violence and abuse have lost theirjobs as a form of reprisal,” concluded the delegation.
Inaddition to the monitoring visits, the OMCT met with various authorities, inter alia the National RehabilitationInstitute (INR); the new directive of the Adolescent Criminal ResponsibilitySystem (SIRPA); the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI); the Supreme Courtof Justice; UNICEF; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and civil societyorganizations.
The OMCTappreciates the openness of the government of Uruguay and the NHRI for theopportunity to establish a dialogue, as well as for the coordination andsupport provided with during the visits and the interviews carried out at thedetention centers. We hope that the new government of Uruguay will prioritizethe legal and policy reforms in juvenile justice system in order to fullycomply with international law.
The OMCT,together with IELSUR and CDNU, urge the State of Uruguay to:
1. Conduct a structural, legal and policy reform on the juvenile justicesystem, prioritizing non-custodial measures for children in conflict with thelaw.
2. Ensure that the new direction of SIRPA has an adequate budget to promotethe urgent structural changes needed in the detention centers, including theevaluation of contracts of work, and adequate training for employees workingdirectly with the children.
3. Ensure adequate safeguards against the overuse of medication in thejuvenile justice system.
4. Guarantee that the National Preventive Mechanism has sufficient budget,human resources and structure to monitor all places of deprivation of liberty.
5. Ensure safeguards against torture and ill-treatment in all places ofdeprivation of liberty. Including the elimination of cells of solitaryconfinement or punishment cells.
6. To translate the penitentiary reform in real structural changes,guaranteeing conditions of detention in accordance with international humanrights.
Nextmonth the OMCT will publish a follow-up report to the Committee Against Torturecontaining some of the information and the documents received during themission, as well as new recommendations.
OMCT,Carolina Barbara, Coordinator of Child Rights Activities Tel. +41 (0) 22 809 4939, Email: email@example.com
 Sistema deResponsabilidad Penal Adolescente (Adolescent Penal Responsibility System).