Uruguay fails to overturn 1986 amnesty law

[JURIST] Uruguay's House of Representatives [official website, in Spanish] failed to partially repeal [El Pais report, in Spanish] the 1986 Expiry Law [text, in Spanish] on Thursday in a vote of 49-49. The Senate [official website, in Spanish] voted to void the amnesty law [JURIST report] last month, and, with the Broad Front party [party website, in Spanish] in control of the House, the bill was expected to pass. Broad Front Deputy Victor Semproni [official website, in Spanish] refused to vote [El Pais report, in Spanish] and thus quashed his party's majority. The law was criticized because, while allowing for prosecutions of veterans of the war, it did not allow for prosecution of rebel guerrillas also involved. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) [official website, in Spanish] effectively overturned the law [JURIST report] last month when it ruled [judgment, in Spanish] that Uruguay's government must bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of a woman abducted by Uruguay government forces in 1976. In November, the Uruguayan Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] found the law to be unconstitutional [JURIST report].

Prior to November's judgment, Uruguay's Supreme Court had largely upheld the amnesty except in extreme circumstances, and in 2009 a popular vote failed to overturn the law [JURIST reports]. Many of the alleged kidnappings and deaths occurred in connection with Operation Condor [BBC backgrounder], a cooperative effort between the governments of Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Chile to eliminate left-wing political opponents. In June, ex-military officials in Argentina were put on trial [JURIST report] for the deaths of 65 activists in connection with Operation Condor. The Uruguayan government has also attempted to bring those responsible for the disappearance of leftist activist to justice. In 2006, eight former police and military officers were indicted by a Uruguayan court [JURIST report] on counts of kidnapping and conspiracy committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship. The crimes were related to the 1976 disappearances of five members of an Uruguayan leftist group who fled to Argentina and were detained there by police, and who investigators suspect were victims of Operation Condor.

 

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