Civil society concerned over government's absence at IACHR hearings

Association

Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Uruguay came together to express concern over the government's absence at two of the three hearings of the 162nd session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in May 2017.

One of the hearings concerned judicial independence in Uruguay, during which CSOs raised concerns over the process of electing Ministers of the Supreme Court, claiming that the selection process lacks transparency and excludes citizen participation. At the second hearing, CSOs presented the current obstacles in investigating and prosecuting human rights violations committed during the last dictatorship. The organisations also noted the threats against attorneys and prosecutors for their role in the prosecution of past human rights violations, an issue previously reported on the Monitor. 

In a letter, the government of Uruguay excused itself from participating in the hearings but reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the IACHR. The IACHR in turn expressed regret over "the State’s absence, as these hearings constitute an important forum for shedding light on issues that warrant attention”. 

Expression

Representatives of the government institution in charge of communication services in Uruguay, Unidad Reguladora de Servicios de Comunicaciones (URSEC), announced that substantive aspects of the Communication Services Act, also known as the Media Law, will finally be implemented in September 2017. 

Civil society organisations within Coalición por una Comunicación Democrática (Coalition for Democratic Communication) have been advocating for the implementation of the law since it was enacted in 2014. The new law aims to strengthen media freedoms and improve access to information. During the IACHR's 162nd session, the Coalition participated in a public hearing on the Media Law, asserting that “ground has been lost with respect to diversity and pluralism”.The IACHR also expressed its “concern regarding the alleged delays in the implementation of the mechanisms established by the law" and requested a timeline of implementation from the government.