Uruguay: A vital rehabilitation programme for child detainees is axed


The World Organisation Against torture (OMCT) and Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)-Uruguay, member of the OMCT’s SOS Torture network, are deeply concerned by the decision of the National Institute for Adolescent Social Inclusion (INISA) to put an end to a programme of courses encouraging the social reintegration of children deprived of liberty.

The NEXO Programme, launched by SERPAJ, has existed for 30 years and covers areas such as the promotion of citizenship and education, including of participating to socio-educative and vocational courses.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that it is the responsibility of the State to provide socio-educational activities to children deprived of liberty with a view to their rehabilitation and reintegration in society.

This decision by the INISA will largely affect detained minors who may be left without quality socio-educational care. It is part of a wider trend to remove the activities available to children in detention.

This unfortunate move comes just one year after the UN Committee against Torture recommended that the government “increase the access of juvenile detainees to education, rehabilitation and social reintegration programs”. in June 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee also recommended that “the preventive detention of children and adolescents is avoided to the greatest extent possible, promoting the use of alternative measures that do not imply deprivation of liberty and guarantee their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community, taking into account their best interests”.

Uruguay has the highest prison population rate in South America, and has passed a law in 2019 that, among other things, allows some adolescents to be deprived of liberty for up to 10 years, a major legislative setback in terms of juvenile criminal justice.

We call on the Uruguayan authorities to reinstate the NEXO programme, to ensure solid reintegration and rehabilitation measures for detained children and to fully implement the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture.

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