Uruguay’s highest court ruled that a law providing amnesty for human rights violations committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship and protected former military and law enforcement officials from prosecution is unconstitutional. The ruling comes as the case for human rights abuses and the deaths of 20 people comes to trial against Juan María Bordaberry, the former Uruguayan president and dictator.
The so-called Expiry Law has been upheld by referendums held in 1989 and again in 2009 and requires that all judicial investigations into alleged crimes committed by security force members during the dictatorship be approved by both the executive branch and the Supreme Court. No such investigations had been approved until the election of then-President Tabaré Vázquez, a Frente Amplio (FA) candidate, in 2005.
Proponents of the repeal of the Expiry Law have submitted a bill for approval of the Senate that would recognize all international human rights conventions that the country has signed to be protected by the constitution. Passage of this bill would also invalidate the Expiry Law as it would also broaden prosecutorial powers for prosecuting human rights violators. Opponents of the bill argue that it is an attack on Uruguay’s institutions.
Monday’s ruling allows an investigation into Bordaberry for the deaths of 20 people brought against him by various human rights groups. Bordaberry is currently serving 30 years for constitutional violations and an additional 30 years for extrajudicial killings. He is under house arrest due to health concerns.