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Uruguay high court overturns amnesty law for rights violations during dictatorship

[JURIST] The Uruguayan Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Monday found unconstitutional the country’s Expiry Law, which granted amnesty to military officials accused of human rights violations during the country's 1973-1985 dictatorship. The court's ruling applies only to the case of Nibia Sabalsagaray, allegedly murdered by the military in 1974, but the law is also subject to a voter referendum scheduled for Sunday. Ruling that the law violated separation of powers and constitutional sovereignty [El Pais report, in Spanish], it is likely to influence future decisions in the event that it is not overturned by voters.

The law, adopted in 1986 and upheld by referendum in 1989, requires judges to consult executive officials to determine its applicability when hearing cases involving human rights violations. In 2005, Argentina's Supreme Court struck down similar amnesty laws [JURIST report] adopted in the 1980s to protect potential defendants, prompting the government to reopen hundreds of human rights cases.

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