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Uruguay senate votes to revoke amnesty law

Uruguay's Senate [official website, in Spanish] voted [press release, in Spanish] 16-15 Tuesday to revoke the amnesty law of 1986, which prevents investigations, adjudications and human rights prosecutions of military junta officials during their regime between 1973-1985. The vote was supported by the Broad Front coalition (Frente Amplio) [party website, in Spanish], which is control of the House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish]. The House is scheduled to vote on this issue later Wednesday. Proponents of the law's revocation argue that the amnesty law violates the international human rights principles and treaties signed and ratified by Uruguay. In addition, they claim it is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention of Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.

In June, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica [official website, in Spanish] announced [JURIST report] that 80 administrative acts under the amnesty law preventing investigations of crimes committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship will be removed. This revocation only involved the executive branch's administrative acts, leaving it for the courts to decide how to proceed. In May, the House of Representative failed to partially repeal the amnesty law in a vote of 49-49 due to criticism that the law will allow the prosecution of veterans of the war but not rebel guerrillas. A month earlier, the Senate voted to overturn [JURIST reports] the law by a vote of 16-15. In March, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) [official website, in Spanish] ruled [JURIST report] that Uruguay's government must bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of a woman abducted by Uruguay government forces in 1976. In October of last year, the effort to overturn the law through a referendum [text, PDF, in Spanish] failed [JURIST report] when only 48 percent voted in support of such change.

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