Sabalsagaray Curutchet

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Guarantees Against Impunity | Punishment | Amnesties

Themes: Justice and Truth

The Court declared that Articles 1, 3 and 4 the Law on the Expiration of the Punitive Claims of the State were unconstitutional. It based this decision on a finding that they violated the right of victims and their families to access the judicial system and obligation to identify and punish the perpetrators of crimes that occurred during the dictatorship. The Court highlighted that the right to have one's rights protected is recognised by both the Constitution and international treaties. It found that, by excluding suspects from the State's sanctioning power, the amnesty law violated the separation of powers. It also found that the law violated internationally recognised human rights, recalling that domestic provisions cannot be a justification for non-compliance with an international treaty. In reaching its decision, the Court also took into account that the legitimacy of the amnesty law had been already contested by a number of international bodies, as well as by national courts of countries that had experiences dictatorships similar to Uruguay in the same period.

Judgment Date

October 19, 2009



Judicial Body

Uruguay - Supreme Court of Justice

Articles violated

Article 1 [LEPCS], Article 3 [LEPCS], Article 4 [LEPCS]

Facts of the Case

In June 1974, during the dictatorship, Ms. Nibia Sabalsagaray Curutchet died after having been disappeared and while detained on military premises. In December 1986, the Law on the Expiration of the Punitive Claims of the State was passed, providing for an amnesty for crimes committed until 1985 by military and police officials for political motives, in the performance of their functions or by following a commander's order.

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