In Dialogue with Uruguay, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Commend Measures to Address Discrimination and Racial Disparities, Ask about People of African Descent and Prison Overcrowding
The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Uruguay on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with Committee Experts commending the State for implementing legislative measures and programmes to address discrimination and racial disparities, and raising issues concerning discrimination against persons of African descent and prison overcrowding.
A Committee Expert commended that the State had implemented several legislative measures to address discrimination. Another Expert commended the State party for programmes, laws and regulations in place to address racial disparities.
A Committee Expert said people of African descent in Uruguay faced a more vulnerable situation than other groups. The proportion of people of African descent in poverty was more than double that of the rest of the population and this population had fewer years of education, and a higher percentage held precarious jobs. Did the State party intend to review measures in place to support persons of African descent?
Another Committee Expert said that the prison population had grown by six per cent in the last 12 months, prison overcrowding was at 134 per cent, and there had been a notable increase in both violent and natural deaths of persons deprived of liberty. What measures had been taken to reduce prison overcrowding? Had the State party investigated the causes of deaths in custody?
Responding to the questions, the delegation said Uruguay recognised the inequalities experienced by persons of African descent. It was working to combat racism in schools. A guide for training teachers regarding racial equality had been developed. There were labour integration programmes in place designed to tackle gaps in the workforce and support women of African descent to access work after having children. A national strategy for supporting people of African descent was being developed. Public officials were trained to combat racism.
On prison overcrowding, the delegation said that the State was working to increase capacity, creating 3,500 additional places in prisons. Eighty-six persons had died in prisons in 2021, but through the work of the police, there had been only 14 deaths in prisons so far in 2022. The State had a strategic plan to reform the penitentiary system to increase alternatives to detention, such as house arrest; improving health care offered in prisons; and providing support to released detainees.
Carolina Ache, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, and head of the delegation , introducing the report, said Uruguay was committed to eliminating inequalities and social injustices by adopting new legal instruments and policies. The national plan for racial equity and Afro-descendants (2019-2022) aimed to guarantee the rights of the Afro-descendant population, and to introduce an ethnic-racial equity perspective within public policies, programmes and affirmative actions. A new law had also been introduced that granted reparation to trans persons who were victims of institutional violence, deprived of their liberty, or suffered moral or physical harm committed by agents of the State. Between May 2019 and 2022, 234 applications were processed and 178 reparation payments were granted.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Ache thanked the Committee Experts for their comments and concerns, which would help the State to refine and improve legislation and human rights in the State. Ms. Ache said that Uruguay had a sound democracy and supported the fundamental freedoms of all citizens.
Photini Pazartzis, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for providing responses to the questions raised by Committee Experts. Ms. Pazartzis said that the Committee would provide recommendations on the best way for the State to further promote human rights.
The delegation of Uruguay was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Supreme Court of Justice; Ministry of the Interior; Ministry of Labour and Social Security; Ministry of Social Development;
Secretary of Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic ; Institute for Children and Adolescents of Uruguay; Parliamentary Commissioner for the Prison System and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-fifth session is being held from 27 June to 27 July. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee is next scheduled to meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 4 July, to consider the fifth periodic report of Ireland (CCPR/C/IRL/5).
The Committee has before it the sixth periodic report of Uruguay (CCPR/C/URY/6).
Presentation of the Report
CAROLINA ACHE, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay and head of the delegation, said that the reporting period was marked by the COVID-19 health emergency, which had forced the reorientation and strengthening of public spending to preserve the health of the population and alleviate the pandemic’s socio-economic effects. Uruguay had managed to control the pandemic without interrupting economic and commercial activity or restricting the individual freedoms of Uruguayan nationals or resident foreigners.
Uruguay was committed to eliminating inequalities and social injustices by adopting new legal instruments and policies. The national plan for racial equity and Afro-descendants (2019-2022) aimed to guarantee the rights of the Afro-descendant population, and to introduce an ethnic-racial equity perspective within public policies, programmes and affirmative actions. A new law had also been introduced that granted reparation to trans persons who were victims of institutional violence, deprived of their liberty, or suffered moral or physical harm committed by agents of the State. Between May 2019 and 2022, 234 applications were processed and 178 reparation payments were granted.
Uruguay did not prevent the entry of asylum seekers needing international protection during the pandemic. In cooperation with international non-governmental organizations, it provided food and shelter for such asylum seekers, prioritising mothers with children, people with disabilities, women and unaccompanied minors. Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants enjoyed the same rights as Uruguayan citizens.
Under the law on equality and non-discrimination between women and men, approved in 2019, specialised anti-discrimination units were created in ministries and other State institutions. In 2020, the National Civil Service Office conducted a study to identify gender gaps in access to public service positions. Based on the data collected, Uruguay was deploying various actions to promote women's access to leadership roles, as well as professional and technical positions within the public service. The national strategy for gender equality 2030, a roadmap for achieving gender equality through public policies, had also been established. Two courts specialising in gender-based, domestic and sexual violence were recently inaugurated, with four more expected to be inaugurated shortly.
Day centres had been established that provided comprehensive care to people over 65 years of age. A national plan for mental health 2020-2027 had also been prepared and approved. The plan aimed to assist persons with mental health issues to access housing, labour insertion, and educational and cultural inclusion.
There had been a drop by almost a third in the number of births by teenage mothers between 2010 and 2020, and this trend was expected to continue. This was the result of the actions taken as part of the national strategy for the prevention of unintentional pregnancy in adolescents. In 2021, 10,111 voluntary interruptions of pregnancy were registered. Professionals that refused to perform abortions were legally obliged to refer clients to a non-objecting colleague, so that the service could be carried out.
Uruguay had one of the highest suicide rates in the Americas region. In response to this, the national suicide prevention strategy 2021-2025 had implemented specific actions designed to protect at risk young people and adolescents.
Uruguay had maintained efforts to reform the prison system, combatting overcrowding in prisons through the construction of new facilities, improving detention conditions, and providing social reintegration activities.
Regarding serious human rights violations that occurred during the recent past, cases for crimes committed had been reopened. Uruguay had also increased its actions to determine the whereabouts of disappeared persons. The forty-ninth anniversary of the coup d'état of 1973 was marked on 27 June 2022 and on that day there was overwhelming national support for democracy and human rights.
The national human rights institution played a key role in protecting human rights and, in accordance with the recommendations made by this and other Committees, its structure and functioning had been strengthened through the allocation of financial, human and technical resources.
Uruguay would continue to incorporate the highest standards of the Convention into domestic regulations. The opinions and comments of the members of the Committee were important contributions to improving the quality of policies and the effectiveness of the instruments for the defence of human rights.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted that the SIMORE tool, the system of monitoring recommendations, contributed to providing transparency of State institutions. It was a very strong tool and Uruguay should be proud of what it had achieved. The tool could also be accessed by civil society. Could examples of the participation of civil society in the tool be provided. Had civil society been involved in preparing for this dialogue and in other legislation and policy deliberations?
Did Uruguay report to the United Nations’ Secretary-General on the preventative measures it implemented during the pandemic? Such communication would have allowed the Committee to better analyse complaints about violations of rights that occurred during the health crisis in the country.
The Expert commended that the State had implemented several legislative measures to address discrimination. What was the impact of these laws? What was the number of people convicted of discriminatory acts since 2018? The Expert also welcomed the creation of the National Council for Racial Ethnic Equity and Afro-Descendants, among other projects.
However, people of African descent in Uruguay faced a more vulnerable situation than other groups. The proportion of people of African descent in poverty was more than double that of the rest of the population and this population had fewer years of education, and a higher percentage held precarious jobs. Did the State party intend to review measures in place to support persons of African descent?
Another Expert congratulated the State party on its national human rights institute being accredited “A” status. Had there been an increase in the institute’s staff and had its budget changed since commencing its work?
The Expert welcomed laws that guaranteed children and adolescents’ access to justice. What measures had been taken to provide the same access to other vulnerable groups, including persons of indigenous origin, persons of African descent, persons with disabilities and migrant workers? What measures were in place to ensure the effective investigation of all instances of discrimination, and victims’ access to justice and full redress?
What measures were in place to guarantee access to voluntary termination of pregnancy to women who did not have Uruguayan nationality? How many such terminations had been carried out during the reporting period, and how many were pregnancies resulting from rape? A high percentage of professionals refused to provide abortion care due to personal beliefs, and migrant women had limited access to terminations and other reproductive health services. Did the State party plan to review the related law to improve access to termination services?
Another Committee Expert commended that the State had taken numerous legislative and policy measures with a view to improving the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Less than 15 per cent of transgender persons completed primary education and they usually had unskilled and low-paying jobs. What measures was the Government taking to address this situation? What were the main challenges in implementing measures to receive and respond to complaints from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons?
A Committee Expert welcomed law 19.685 that promoted gender equity. What was the status of the national strategy for gender equality 2030? What was the degree of representation of women, including indigenous and Afro-descendant women, in political positions and in the judiciary, particularly in leadership positions? What measures were in place to address violence against female politicians, particularly on social media?
Only 11 per cent of private companies were managed by women, and 17.9 per cent of women experienced violence in the workplace. What measures were in place to increase women's representation in decision-making roles in companies and to ensure their safety? When would the State be able to reach equality in terms of the pay gap?
What were the results of the 2016-2019 action plan aiming to prevent gender-based violence, and were there plans to implement a new plan? In 2021, there were 30 femicides and 36,565 complaints of domestic violence. What was the number of complaints, prosecutions and sentences handed down in cases of violence against women? Did the State provide sufficient advice, shelter and assistance to victims?
Another Committee Expert asked whether concrete measures had been taken to prevent cases of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and other places of deprivation of liberty. Had investigations into police ill-treatment occurring in 2018 been duly investigated? Did police protocols guarantee non-discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression or sexual orientation? The Expert asked for information on victims of trafficking, recent judicial investigations, and reparations provided to victims.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that meetings were held with civil society while preparing the State report. Uruguay did not have a standard that regulated the scope of states of emergency. People who felt that their rights were violated by the state of emergency could take their cases to court. Borders were closed as part of the state of emergency implemented in March 2021, and the right to freedom of assembly had been suspended within the provisions of the Covenant.
Uruguay recognised the inequalities experienced by persons of African descent. It was working to combat racism in schools. A guide for training teachers regarding racial equality had been developed. There were labour integration programmes in place designed to tackle gaps in the workforce and support women of African descent to access work after having children. A national strategy for supporting people of African descent was being developed. Public officials were trained to combat racism.
The State aimed to introduce new laws that promoted female participation in parliament. A programme that trained women to hold public office was being operated, and it had so far trained 62 women.
In 2018 to 2020, there were around 20,000 complaints lodged each year relating to gender-based violence. Uruguay provided specific reparations for children who became orphans due to femicide. There was a national registry on gender-based violence that informed policies designed to tackle gender-based violence. Uruguay had scaled up efforts to train members of the judiciary relating to such violence, and had developed guides on the subject. Article 80 of the law on gender-based violence provided for reparations for victims. The number of reparations provided each year was growing. Electronic devices were used to monitor perpetrators.
The State had not reached its quota for persons of African descent working in the public system. The current level of representation was 1.8 per cent. The wage gap for persons of African descent had improved slightly during the reporting period, as had the underemployment rate. The wage gap between men and women was 19 per cent, a small improvement since the last report. However, more needed to be done to reduce these wage gaps. More than 12 per cent of occupational training provided by the State was for persons of African descent and persons with disabilities. A project had been implemented to provide training and scholarships to more people of African descent and persons with disabilities. Subsidies were provided to private companies that hired persons with disabilities. The Government subsidised 60 per cent of the salaries of persons of African descent living below the poverty line, and 80 per cent for women of that group.
Thirty-five support centres had been established for victims of gender-based violence. There were also shelters provided for victims. A nation-wide project was in place to subsidise rent for victims for up to three years.
Uruguay respected the independence of its national human rights institute. It was launching procedures for renovating the institute’s facilities. The institute had more than 90 staff members and had received over 600 consultations in 2021, around 25 per cent of which were reports of human rights violations. Funds had been approved for the search for displaced persons.
Uruguay had adopted laws and acceded to treaties that guaranteed access to judicial proceedings, and the judiciary was working to break down barriers to access to justice. Public defenders were provided to persons who could not afford legal counsel. Compulsory training was provided on human rights for around 870 judges in 2021. More than 90 per cent of those deprived of liberty were defended by public defenders. Public defenders needed more human and financial resources to carry out their duties.
Police did not participate in social educative processes within youth detention centres. A training programme had been developed for the 800 staff working directly with children in these centres to improve these children’s reintegration into society.
There had been an increase in abortions, with around 10,000 per year since the law on voluntarily terminations was introduced in 2018; 11.3 per cent of females who received an abortion were girls under 18. Whilst doctors could refuse to perform an abortion, they were legally obliged to refer the user to a doctor who did not object to performing abortions. All migrants who had lived in Uruguay for more than one year were able to get an abortion.
A law provided for reparations for transgender persons who had experienced violence. A commission had been established to receive complaints from trans persons who were victims of violence. A commission had also been established for supporting trans persons to change their names; 294 such persons had registered to change their names in 2021. Fifty per cent of public health service providers were being trained in mental health care. The National Office for Civil Services was carrying out awareness-raising campaigns on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
Sexual and reproductive health education was covered by the State budget and training was provided for teachers. Various actions had been performed as part of the “month of sexual health” in September to inform students about sexual health and contraception methods. Educational material had also been developed to promote the prevention of gender-based violence.
Sixty-five per cent of judges were women and most justices in the Supreme Court were women. There were specialised family courts that dealt with cases of gender-based violence in addition to the specialised courts dealing with sexual and gender-based violence.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert commended the State party for programmes, laws and regulations in place to address racial disparities. It was often the practice of these laws that was an issue. What measures had been taken to put these laws effectively into practice?
Another Committee Expert said that some political groups were hostile to the national human rights institute. What was the make-up of this institution?
A Committee Expert asked what the percentage of female justices and prosecutors was? What penalties had been handed down for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence? How did the State intend to train judges regarding this form of violence?
Another Committee Expert asked about the rate of implementation of measures to prevent racial discrimination. The public defence system was overwhelmed. Defence services were under the judiciary rather than the prosecutor’s office. How would the Government secure an appropriate budget for these services and ensure their independence?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that the State was committed to the independence of the national human rights institute, and was doing everything it could to support it.
Law 19.122 promoted racial equality. There was a 14 per cent intake of African students in scholarship programmes in 2021, which was far above the State’s eight per cent target. There was a need to assess the effectiveness of implementation of laws and policies promoting racial equality.
The Government was creating its first national human rights plan. This plan institutionalised a human rights approach in public policies. Meetings had been held with strategic partners on the plan, a Web site introducing it had been created, and a survey of stakeholders on proposals had been carried out. This plan would be implemented in early 2023.
79 per cent of justices were women. There was a provision in the Constitution stating that the Supreme Court of Justice appointed defenders. Whether or not to change this provision was being debated. However, public defenders were totally independent. There was a need to increase the budget for public defenders.
The Parliamentary Penitentiary Commission conducted unannounced visits to prisons. Its concern was preventing violence in prisons. There was an incident in 2018 where one detainee had died. The Commission had investigated the incident and found that a prison officer had sprayed the detainee with tear gas and kicked him while on the ground. Three public officials were convicted following that incident. 12 complaints had been submitted to the public prosecutor by that commission. Overcrowding led to oppression, so the Commission was working to alleviate that. There was no Ministry of Justice in Uruguay, and there was a need for a leadership body to manage the justice system.
The State was in a transition period regarding SIMORE. There were 969 follow-ups to treaty body recommendations within the system. The platform was being updated and improved.
A human rights-based approach was taken regarding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Borders had been closed as part of that response for 20 days, however persons requiring international protection and Uruguayan nationals had been allowed to enter. The right to assembly was not suspended, but was limited as part of prevention measures. The state of emergency followed the provisions of the Covenant. As no rights were entirely suspended, Uruguay was not obligated to notify the Secretary-General of preventative measures. Compulsory lockdowns had not been enforced. Agreements had been established with other States to sponsor flights for Uruguayan nationals in foreign countries and foreign nationals in Uruguay.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert said that the new Code of Criminal Procedure provided victims with protections and guarantees. What training measures had been developed for judicial staff on the new Code? Uruguay was first in South America in terms of number of prisoners in relation to its population, and the prison population had grown by six per cent in the last 12 months. The new Code of Criminal Procedure provided for pre-trial detention as an exception. As of 2016, of the total number of persons deprived of their liberty, only one third had a final sentence. In addition, deaths in custody had increased considerably in 2021. How had the new Code affected the number of people in pre-trial detention? Were there specific time limits for pre-trial detention?
In 2021, 23 per cent of adolescents deprived of liberty remained inside the cell for more than 18 hours a day, and 56 per cent between 12 and 18 hours. When would a specialised Ombudsman's office for children be created? Adolescents were at risk of not being provided with detailed information about their rights and the reasons for their detention. How had recent legislative reforms contributed to protecting the rights of children in custody and supporting their re-entry into society, labour and/or education?
What was the status of the draft law amending article 91 of the Civil Code by raising the minimum age of marriage to 18? Fifteen per cent of women married before the age of 18, and the percentage was higher in rural areas. What measures did the State intend to take to prevent child marriage? How many complaints had the State received concerning forced marriage?
In response to the abuse of young people in the Ceprili Centre in 2015, 14 officials out of 26 were acquitted on appeal, and 12 were charged with the minor offence of abuse of authority. What measures had been taken to establish stricter sanctions for institutional violence and sexual abuse, to prevent such incidents, and grant reparations to victims?
In 2020, of the 1,245 female adolescents who were reported as disappeared, 764 were adolescents institutionalised in the protection system. What measures had been taken to thoroughly investigate the disappearances of women, children and adolescents?
Between 2012 and 2019, there had been 186 intentional homicides of children and adolescents. Of every 10 homicide victims, seven were male children or adolescents, and three were girls or female adolescents. More than half of the girls were killed in a domestic setting. Between 2015 and 2019, 14 adolescents had been killed in the juvenile penal system. What measures had been adopted to investigate all cases of homicide of adolescents, respecting the principles of access to justice, due diligence and participation of the victim's family?
Another Expert said that prison overcrowding was at 134 per cent, and that there had been a notable increase in both violent and natural deaths of persons deprived of liberty. Had the State party investigated the causes of deaths in custody? What measures had been taken to establish a regular inspection system? What COVID-19 mitigation measures had been implemented in overcrowded prisons?
The number of female prisoners had increased by around 30 per cent between 2020 and 2022. Did the State party have a plan to expand non-custodial measures for female perpetrators of non-violent crimes?
The urgent consideration law passed in July 2020 authorised the police to declare protests illegal. How many protests had been declared illegal and dissolved? What was the progress of the draft Audio-Visual Communication Services Act and the composition of the Audio-Visual Communications Council?
What was the progress of implementation of the national plan for access to justice and legal protection of persons with disabilities? What was the progress of a draft bill on guardianship for persons with disabilities? How had access to information and social services for persons with disabilities been ensured with regard to COVID-19 prevention measures?
Another Committee Expert asked about measures taken to investigate police abuse. The Expert reiterated the State’s responsibility to ensure fair trials and due process.
What were the findings of the working group investigating crimes against humanity committed between 1968 and 1985? Did Law 18.026 of 2006 ("Cooperation with the International Criminal Court") apply to those crimes? Which convictions had been handed down against persons responsible for torture and other serious crimes committed during that period? Had the State party contemplated reparation measures for the families of victims of enforced disappearances that occurred during that period?
Another Committee Expert asked how the State’s migration policy provided protection and humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless persons. What measures had been implemented to guarantee migrants’ full participation in society, particularly their right to health care, housing and employment? What was the number of asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless persons in the State party, and what efforts had been made to reduce the backlog of asylum applications?
How many trained personal assistants supported families with children with disabilities? How did the Uruguayan Institute for Children and Adolescents protect minors, and how many minors were placed in alternative care rather than juvenile detention?
Another Expert asked for data about the number of intelligence acts that had been carried out by police or military personnel from 1985 to date, and the convictions issued for such acts. Such espionage reminded the Expert of acts carried out during dictatorial times. What was the progress of investigations into such acts?
How many families had benefited to date from the Family Project Fund? How many beneficiaries did the Family Allowance system established in 2007 have? Child poverty had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Expert welcomed the national plan for the care of children and adolescents in street situations 2020 – 2030. However, in 2021, at least 1,168 children or adolescents spent nights on the street in Uruguay, and there was a lack of up-to-date official data on street children. What was the reason for the delay in data collection? When did Uruguay plan to conduct a new survey on child labour? The most recent survey was carried out in 2011.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said under a law introduced last year, abbreviated trials could be used for adolescents in cases of serious crimes. There had been an increase in the use of these measures. The simplified structure reduced the waiting time for sentences to be carried out. Under the new law, there had been an increase in the length of deprivation of liberty for some crimes, such as aggravated homicide and rape. For lesser crimes, the use of measures that did not involve deprivation of liberty had also been increased.
A bill raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 was being considered in Parliament.
Investment had been increased for sports in detention centres. Only three of the 13 juvenile detention centres were maximum security, and juveniles in other centres were free to move about the facilities.
The Ministry of the Interior exercised strong oversight of the police through its police observatory. In 2021, there had been 119 complaints of police abuse submitted to the national human rights institute, but the institute had found that there was no police abuse in 92 of these cases.
There were over 14,000 persons deprived of liberty in custodial facilities, and the violation of human rights in such facilities was a reality that needed to be addressed. Uruguay wished to ensure that released persons did not become repeat offenders. The State was working to increase prison capacity, creating 3,500 additional places by expanding existing facilities and building new prisons. 86 persons had died in prisons in 2021. Through the work of the police, the number of homicides in prisons had been reduced. There had been only 14 deaths in prisons so far in 2022. Only four deaths occurred because of COVID-19, thanks to preventive measures including a ban on visits during the pandemic.
Since 2016, the Parliamentary Penitentiary Commission had investigated deaths in prisons. There was critical overcrowding in prisons across the State. Conditions in such facilities were inadequate, with some prisoners not provided with regular access to toilets. The growth rate of the prison population was at five per cent and rising. Thirty-four per cent of detainees lived in conditions amounting to cruel and inhumane treatment. There was a high level of recidivism that could only be addressed by a human rights-based reform of the system. The State had a strategic plan to reform the penitentiary system to increase alternatives to detention, such as house arrest, improving health care offered in prisons, and providing support to released detainees. Under COVID-19 pandemic measures, detainees were prioritised for vaccination against COVID-19, visits were limited but not banned, and hygiene kits were supplied to prisons.
In 2009, the law on crimes carried out during the dictatorship had been declared unconstitutional. In 2011, another law had been adopted to allow for prosecution of crimes against humanity committed in the past. This year, the Supreme Court had ruled that that law was constitutional and enforceable. That law defined victims of such crimes and included provisions that granted reparations. Those who had suffered serious harm caused by agents of the State were provided with financial reparation. In 2015, searches for disappeared persons had been resumed. Courts were currently considering cases of espionage committed by police and military officers since 1985.
State law specified that the State could not censor the media. The State had not attacked journalists or subjected them to reprisals. The State supported freedom of the press, and there were no obstacles that hindered the work of journalists. Free speech was not at risk in Uruguay.
Many children who had spent at least one night in State-sponsored shelters did so because they were victims of domestic violence. However, they should not be considered homeless, as they were subsequently provided with accommodation.
A law had been passed in 2019 that ensured the right to vote for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities who could not sign voting papers were permitted to use thumbprints. Civil servants were trained in the human rights of persons with disabilities, and health care professionals were provided with training on caring for persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Public Health had made information on prevention of COVID-19 available online and in forms accessible to persons with disabilities. The State was taking measures to aid persons with disabilities in obtaining work in public institutions. There were 5,900 persons making use of State care systems for persons with disabilities.
Uruguay ensured that migrants had access to justice, labour markets, healthcare and education. State institutions were required to inform irregular migrants on the steps required to legalise their migratory status. COVID-19 vaccinations were made accessible to migrants, even those who did not have identification cards. Uruguay was the most receptive country to migrants in Latin America. The State had only recognised five stateless persons. Such persons were given identification cards and had the same rights as citizens. Economic factors were not included in the conditions that determined refugee status. The Commission on Refugees worked with non-governmental organizations to provide food and housing support for refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Child poverty was a problem in the State. The COVID-19 pandemic had caused poverty to increase in 2020, but there had been decreases in 2021 and 2022. Training was being offered to address labour, health and safety issues and combat child labour. The institute for children and adolescents offered support for families to reduce the number of children living in child poverty. It had carried out 16,000 inspections of businesses and issued around 40 child work permits in 2021, most of which related to the film industry. There had been a consistent drop in the number of child work permits issued.
The law on urgent consideration prevented protests from occupying businesses and blocking public thoroughfares. However, the right to protest was still guaranteed, and throughout the current administration, protests had been conducted peacefully.
CAROLINA ACHE, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee Experts for their comments and concerns, which would help the State to refine and improve legislation and human rights in the State. The contributions of civil society were crucial in promoting human rights in Uruguay. Uruguay had a sound democracy and supported the fundamental freedoms of all citizens.
PHOTINI PAZARTZIS, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for providing responses for the questions raised by Committee Experts. Ms. Pazartzis said that the Committee would examine and provide recommendations for the best way for the State to move forward and further promote human rights.
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