Imagini ale paginilor

early 1970's when the military were charged with eradicating these terrorists, the civilian government enacted emergency laws which effectively authorized prolonged arbitrary detention and military trials of civilians suspected of vaguely worded security offenses.

At the same time, the executive branch began detaining hundreds of suspected subversives without charge or trial in secret places of detention. It is precisely in such situations, where the detainee's whereabouts are unknown to his family and lawyer, that torture not only flourishes, but may actually be encourgaged by authorities. Despite the fact that the army utterly destroyed, by its own admission, the Tupamaros in early 1973, their use of torture did not abate, but increased dramatically.

By 1975, Amnesty, the International League for Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists and others, all publicly charged that torture was a systematic practice in Uruguay, indiscriminately used by the armed forces and police against detainees of both sexes.

In fact, in its 1978 report on Uruguay, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights cataloged some of the kinds of torture that were routinely used. These include the application of electric current to the genitals and other parts of the body; the hanging of the victim by his hands and knees from a horizontal bar; the dunking of a person in a tank of water often mixed with human excrement, vomit, urine and blood, until the victim nears asphyxia, and forcing prisoners to sit straddling iron or wooden bars which cut into the groin.

Among the psychological methods of torture were verbal threats and abuse, simulated executions, forcing detainees to witness the torture of others, either directly or by means of tape recordings, threats of the torture of spouses or children, humiliation, and techniques of sensory disorientation.

How could this oldest of Latin American democracies once known as the Switzerland of South America, have become what the late Senator Frank Church and others now call the torture chamber of Latin America? An understanding of the rather peculiar perception of Uruguay's military establishment, may provide some insight to the answer.

Unskilled in state craft and atrociously educated, Uruguay's military leaders, like their counterparts in Chile and previously in the Argentine, embraced with a Messianic zeal, a new doctrine of national security which postulates the division of the world into two opposing camps: the Christian West and the Communist atheistic East.

Uruguay's generals regarded themselves as the paladins of Western Christian civilization with a self-annointed duty to wage a permanent war against the opposing bloc. For them this war is a mortal struggle whose victory must be assured through the use of any means, including murder and torture. Initially, the Tupamaros personified the enemy; however, liberal democracy had permitted the enemy to infiltrate Uruguay with weapons of propaganda, culture, and ideas. Thus, although the military obliterated the Tupamaros in early 1973, their struggle against internal subversion, as they viewed it, was not over.

On the contrary, it was intensified for the avowed purpose of extirpating the roots of subversion, which according to this doctrine, are embedded in the social, cultural, educational, and moral fabric of the country. Accordingly, the Uruguayan military's perception of subversion encompassed not only those who shared the ideology of the Tupamaros, but inevitably came to include all those who peacefully opposed or who simply did not share the government's aims and methods.

Oppression then became generalized and indiscriminate. Individuals were imprisoned, tortured or killed, not for what they had done, but for what they thought, professed, or believed. Given this climate, the military also regarded the defenders of political prisoners as themselves engaging in subversion. Torture soon became a central feature of the Uruguayan military's brutal and frenzied struggle against internal subversion.

The principal casualty of the military's action over these past 10 years has been human dignity and the individual liberties of Uruguay's citizenry as a whole. If the ethical and moral values of Judeo-Christian thought affirm the worth and dignity of man as an individual, it is difficult to envision a doctrine in its application that is so exquisitely antithetical to, indeed utterly destructive of, the very values this perverse doctrine purports to champion.

As some members of this subcommittee might recall, the Congress with strong bipartisan support began in the late 1970's to attach human rights requirements to virtually all U.S. foreign assistance programs. In particular, section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act, defines the term "gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" to expressly include, among others, torture or cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

Unfortunately, some Members of Congress, and most particularly, officials of the current administration, have lost sight of the purposes which prompted the Congress to enact these human rights laws. These purposes are clearly set forth in section 502B which declares, in part, that a principal goal of U.S. foreign policy in accordance with this country's obligations under the United Nation's Charter and in keeping with our constitutional heritage and traditions, shall be, I quote,

To promote the increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries.

It also directs the President of the United States:

To formulate and conduct the international security assistance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote and advance human rights and avoid identification of the United States through such programs with governments which deny their people internationally recognized human rights.

This is a sound and an enduring statement of U.S. foreign policy goals. The engrafting of human rights conditions on U.S. foreign aid and security assistance programs not only poses no conflicts for our national security interests, but actually serves to promote those interests in the long run. There is nothing more detrimental to U.S. security interests and its international image than this country's aiding, training, and supplying the armed forces of a repressive regime which, particularly in the midst of an internal armed conflict, use that assistance in systematic disregard of basic

humanitarian law guarantees, such as the fundamental freedom from torture.

Like it or not, how these foreign governments use our assistance reflects on our Government and on us as a people. If they murder, torture and rape, we risk becoming identified with their actions both at home and abroad. No useful political or U.S. security interest can be served by such an identification.

Section 502B and the other human rights are the supreme law of this land. As such, the executive branch is constitutionally obliged to comply with and faithfully execute the unambiguous standards set forth in these laws. If the Congress is indeed serious about the Executive's compliance, then there simply is no need for additional legislation concerning the bilateral relations of the United States with governments that practice torture.

Apart from inducing the Executive's compliance with these laws, the Congress should support efforts by international and regional bodies and by nongovernmental organizations aimed at preventing and abolishing torture. Specifically, I would hope that this subcommittee would urge passage in both houses of Congress of resolutions endorsing the 12-point program for the prevention of torture adopted by Amnesty last October.

Most importantly, this subcommittee should urge its colleagues in the Senate to consent to the principle human rights conventions signed by President Carter in 1977, all of which contain express provisions against torture.

Ratification of these instruments not only will dissipate the embarrassing contradiction between this country's failure to formally subscribe to these conventions and our espousal of basic rights guaranteed therein, but will enable this country to participate in the organs established under these conventions to promote, protect and fashion regional and international human rights.

Finally, I would hope that the subcommittee would call on the executive branch to support the draft Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and when finalized, to submit that instrument to the Senate for its advice and consent.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[The prepared statement of Professor Goldman follows:]


My name is Robert K. Goldman. I am Louis C. James Professor and Acting Deputy Dean at The American University Law School. I also am a director or trustee of the Americas Watch, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, the International Human Rights Law Group, the International Secretariat of Jurists for Amnesty in Uruguay and the Washington Office on Latin America--all non-governmental organizations which have carefully monitored the human rights situation in Uruguay. addition, I served as Special Rapporteur to the OAS' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in connection with the preparation of its 1978 Report on The Status of Human Rights in Uruguay, and in December 1978 visited Uruguay on behalf of the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A., the International Federation of the



The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of these organizations.


CIDH OEA/Ser. L/V/11.43, doc. 19 corr. 1, 31 enero 1978 ("1978 Uruguay Report)

Rights of Man and the International Movement of Catholic Jurists to investigate human rights violations in that country.

My testimony today will focus on the widespread practice of torture in Uruguay and what the U.S. Congress might do to combat this illicit phenomenon. Before so doing, however, I think it is useful to briefly trace Uruguay's transition from democracy to military dictatorship and to highlight the military government's record of gross human rights violations from 1973 until the present time.

Transition from Civilian to Military Government

Until the late 1960's, Uruguay enjoyed an excellent international reputation for its stable democratic institutions, advanced social welfare policies, and its strong commitment to international and regional efforts to promote and to protect human rights. In 1968, the country's political stability was severely threatened by the emergence of the Movement of National Liberation ("Tupamaros"), an urban guerrilla group whose actions, including bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations, became progressively more violent in the early 1970s. With the failure of its police to wipe out the Tupamaros by September 1971, Uruguay's civilian government entrusted its military with that task. In support of the military's efforts to destroy the guerrillas, the

« ÎnapoiContinuați »