Monday, February 25, 2013

Uruguay: Hundreds Protest Against Supreme Court Rulings

Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered in Montevideo, Uruguay to protest against a pair of recent controversial decisions by the country’s Supreme Court.

“Supreme Court rulings are celebrated by assassins, torturers and large landowners,” read one of the signs held at the protest on Monday afternoon.

The protest is being held days after the top court declared unconstitutional a law that “that made new rights trials possible in spite of a 1986 amnesty law shielding most officers from prosecution”.

The decision, which was backed by four of the five Supreme Court judges, also halted over fifty trials demanding compensations for human rights crimes.  However those military and police officers already sentenced will remain imprisoned.

Students, labor unions and human rights activists are believed to be participating in the demonstration that is organized in part by politicians allied to the ruling leftist Frente Amplio bloc.  Despite the backing of the protests by the coalition some Frente politicos are divided regarding how to deal with the Supreme Court:

The reaction from the ruling coalition was immediate and one of the main groups, founded by President Mujica, the Movement of Popular Participation, MPP, called for impeachment of the Supreme Court, and sponsored the call for the Monday protest. However other groups of the ruling coalition are divided on the impeachment issue. At the most there is consensus to take the case to an international court… 
The march is convened under the flag of “Don’t let Justice be taken”, but despite the full support from the coalition, comes at a moment in which the government of President Mujica is divided on economic and fiscal policies.
So far the march has taken place without any violent incidents even though dozens of police have cordoned off the Supreme Court building.  

Amnesty International’s Uruguay office denounced the top court rulings as a “threatens to leave with impunity hundreds of cases being investigated or already under investigation.” 

Human rights activists were disappointed earlier this month over the transfer of Judge Mariana Mota from the Supreme Court since she was at the forefront of investigations into human rights violations.

Opposition legislators representing the traditional National and Colorado parties have criticized the demonstration as unfairly putting pressure on the judicial branch of government.

The late former President Juan Maria Bordaberry was convicted for rights abuses committed during the dictatorship.  It’s believed that approximately 200 people were kidnapped and killed during the twelve-year dictatorship.

Video Source– YouTube via user telesurenglish

Online Sources –, Mercopress, El Observador,, Washington Office on Latin America, Reuters, JURIST

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