Constitutional Provisions

Article 7 of the 1966 Constitution of Uruguay (as amended) provides that:

The inhabitants of the Republic have the right of protection in the enjoyment of life, honor, liberty, security, labor, and property. No one may be deprived of these rights except in conformity with laws which may be enacted for reasons of general interest.

Article 26 prohibits torture, but only in prisons: "In no case shall brutal treatment be allowed in prisons; they shall be used only as a means of assuring that convicts and prisoners are reeducated, acquire an aptitude for work, and become rehabilitated."

Article 38 address the right of peaceful assembly:

The right of peaceful and unarmed public meetings is guaranteed. The exercise of this right may not be denied by any authority of the Republic except in accordance with law, and only insofar as such exercise may prejudice public health, safety or order.

The Constitution does not regulate the use of force by law enforcement agencies.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints Yes
CAT Optional Protocol 1 State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1948 Charter of the Organization of American States State Party
1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights State Party
Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights Yes

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Law on the Police 18 315 of 2008 governs police use of force. Article 17 stipulates that the police "may only use legitimate force when strictly necessary and to the extent required by the performance of their duties". Article 18 sets out further principles governing the use of force:

The use of force, including different types of weapons, must be moderate, rational, progressive and proportional, considering the risk to face and the legitimate objective pursued.

Article 22 limits the use of firearms to situations "when a person offers armed resistance to police action or endangers the physical integrity or life of the acting police or third parties and can not be reduced or stopped using non-lethal means". This does not fully comply with international law and standards. 

Police Oversight

Uruguay has no dedicated independent civilian police oversight body. The National Ombudsman (Defensoria del pueblo) may investigate complaints against the police.



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Uruguay, the Committee against Torture called on the authorities to "take effective steps to ensure that police officers comply with the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials".


Gelman v. Uruguay

In late 1976, María de Gelman, a pregnant university student, was arbitrarily detained in Buenos Aires by Uruguayan and Argentinean military commandos and then transferred to a detention center in Montevideo, where she gave birth to her child. Ms. Gelman was disappeared and her daughter taken from her and given to an Uruguayan family under "Operation Condor", which involved the systematic practice of arbitrary detention, torture, execution, and enforced disappearance by the Uruguayan dictatorship. In December 1986, the Uruguayan Government approved an amnesty law that eliminated the possibility that military and police officers who committed human rights violations prior to May 1985 would be investigated, tried, and sanctioned. The Court found that Uruguay had thereby violated the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons.


1966 Constitution of Uruguay (as amended) (English translation)

Law on the Police 18 315 (2008)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Uruguay (2014)

Gelman v. Uruguay (2011)