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Most importantly, this Subcommittee should urge the Senate to consent to the principal human rights conventions signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, all of which contain express provisions on torture. As the National Policy Panel of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A. in its Report of December 1979 observed "[i]t is important that the United States incorporate evolving conceptions of rights into its own jurisprudence, particularly as it so often urges other governments to accept enlarged standards of human rights."
Ratification will not only dissipate the embarrassing contradiction between our failure to formally subscribe to these conventions and our espousal of the basic rights guaranteed therein, but will enable the United States to participate in the organs established under these conventions to promote, protect, and fashion regional and international human rights. Finally, the Subcommittee should call on the Executive branch to
support the draft Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and, when finalized, to submit that instrument to the Senate for its advise and consent.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.
* United Nations Association of the United States of America, United States Foreign Policy and Human Rights at 40 (1979).
Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Professor Goldman. Before we go on to the next witness, I would like to say that we will start using the 5minute rule here. If you go a little bit beyond, we will understand, but I respectfully request that you try to keep it to 5 minutes.
Our next witness will be Alejandro Artucio. Mr. Artucio will you please proceed?
STATEMENT OF ALEJANDRO ARTUCIO, FROM URUGUAY
Mr. ARTUCIO. Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me the floor. I am a citizen of Uruguay and a lawyer by profession. Since 1974, I have worked as a legal adviser with the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva.
The account of my detention and torture in Uruguay must be understood in the context of the fact that I was persecuted solely for the exercise of my professional obligation as a lawyer in demanding a fair trial for defendants.
Prior to my detention in Uruguay, I had practiced law for some years. In 1968, I began defending individuals accused of political offenses. Since that time, emergency security measures have been in force in Uruguay. Under the framework of these security measures, which have become routine during the last 16 years, violations of fundamental rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres have systematically taken place.
It is during this period that torture moved from being an isolated phenomenon to becoming a systematic and widespread practice. Torture continues to be practiced in Uruguay today with impunity by both the armed forces and the police. Torture is practiced to obtain information, to provoke confessions, to punish, and to intimidate.
The evidence to support this allegation is abundant. It has been confirmed by hundreds of statements from victims as well as by testimonies from international observers including those of Amnesty International.
In Uruguay, ill treatment does not end with interrogation. The condition under which prisoners must live and their treatment in military prisons can be considered nothing less than cruel, inhuman and degrading.
During 1970 and 1971, I continued to provide legal representation to political prisoners. It was during this period that I also began to make public denunciations of torture. As a result of these activities, I began to receive death threats including threats against the lives of our children. The threats were followed by action. On three occasions our house was bombed with explosives; assassination attempts were made on my life.
Mr. YATRON. Mr. Artucio, I hate to interrupt but could you please pull the mike a little closer so that we can hear you a little clearer? Thank you.
Mr. ARTUCIO. I'm sorry. In response to the situation of deep economic crisis and social unrest, of violence and counterviolence, and increasing urban guerrilla activities by the Tupamaros, the Government declared a state of internal war in April 1972 in violation of the Constitution.
The armed forces were granted wider powers and began to play an increasing role in the political process. Military tribunals were given jurisdiction to try civilians in political cases. Lawyers were harassed and intimidated in their work with military tribunals, and defense rights were limited. Lawyers themselves became victims of repression; arrests were made under the provision of the state of emergency which allowed the executive to detain individuals without judicial order.
In June 1972 I was arrested. I was taken to the Central Police Station where I was held incommunicado in a dark cell with no light or bed, with only the clothes I wore at the time of my arrest. The floor was wet, and they gave me nearly nothing to eat. I was interrogated in an attempt to obtain confessions against other lawyers, judges, and members of the Parliament.
Five days later I was delivered to the army. Hooded and handcuffed, I was taken away by members of the army. It was during this trip that the physical violence began and I was beaten by members of the army.
When we finally arrived at our destination, infantry battalion No. 1, still handcuffed and hooded, the torture continued with punches, kicks, and beatings. After some time which was impossible to estimate, I was forced to stand in a rigid position for a prolonged period. If I moved, I was beaten. During this entire time, I was kept hooded. To be hooded, Mr. Chairman, is more than a physical deprivation; it is to lose all sense of time, to not know if one is alone, being watched, safe or in danger, or whether the sun shines day after day.
I was later taken to see the doctor of the military unit. During the course of the medical examination, I remained hooded. Given my broken ribs, the doctor indicated that I was in no condition to be interrogated anymore. When we left, I was again placed in a standing position still hooded.
The next morning, that is ten hours later, the torture started once again. This time, I was subjected for the first time to the "submarine." This torture method entailed near asphyxiation by means of submersion of the head and body into a vat of water filled with vomit and urine, as Dr. Goldman just explained.
During that time interrogation continued. This session lasted a long period of time. The worst of all was the sensation of asphyxiation. The handcuffs had been fitted tightly around my wrists so each time I resisted, the handcuff created more pressure, further damaging seriously my wrists. The pressure of the water on the blindfold allowed the bandage to loosen, and for several seconds, I was able to see my torturers.
The torture sessions continued for 3 days with only short periods for rest. During my entire period of detention I was never permitted medical treatment of any kind, not even x rays. I was kept isolated in a small cell.
Some weeks later I was again tortured, since I refused to sign a statement that had been prepared by my torturers in my presence, but in which they inserted questions and gave answers as if they were mine.
At the time of my arrest, the military went to our home and to my lawyer's office, and without a judicial warrant, searched and confiscated documents and correspondence.
I was kept in this military unit for 7 months. During this period the 200 detainees held there were subjected on three occasions to some kind of collective torture. During this period some detainees died under torture. I was kept incommunicado for 7 months with no access to a lawyer, or visits from relatives. Nor was I allowed to speak to other prisoners despite the fact that the Constitution and Uruguayan law only authorize a maximum term of 24 hours incommunicado detention.
After that, I was taken before a military judge, with no prior access to my lawyer. The military judge was a colonel, who had no legal training. He accepted into evidence statements made by military officers against me and refused to incorporate into the proceedings denunciations of torture I had made.
I shall not refer here to conditions in the military units or in the military prison. I shall only say that these conditions were inhuman, cruel, and degrading. I was detained for 2 years in all. I spent the final 8 months in the infamous military prison of Libertad.
Libertad Prison is a very special place. One could talk for hours about the rigid system of control of family visits, medical care, food, constant pressure from guards, and the elaborate system of sanctions and arbitrary punishments which are designed to destroy every aspect of the prisoner's life and personality.
During the entire course of my detention, and even after, I was never sentenced. My indictment by the military tribunal could only be qualified as ridiculous, if it were not tragic.
I finish, Mr. Chairman, with the comment saying only that despite the fact that I was a civilian, I was tried by a military court in a clear violation of the Constitution. Ten years have passed since my release. Despite this, the situation in Uruguay continues to demand international concern.
Only a month ago, in April, a medical doctor, Dr. Vladimir Roslik died under torture in a military barrack in Uruguay. His case, like mine, is not an isolated one.
On behalf of the Uruguayans who still live today under a military regime, I respectfully request that you continue to monitor the situation in my country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Artucio follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ALEJANDRO ARTUCIO, FROM URUGUAY
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before this subcommittee to present testimony. My name is Alejandro Artucio. I am a citizen of Uruguay and a lawyer by profession. Since 1974 I have worked as a legal advisor with the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva.
The account of my detention and torture in Uruguay which follows must be prefaced by an understanding that what happened to me was, in my view, based solely on the fact that I attempted to carry out my professional obligations and the duties associated with them in an honest fashion. I was persecuted solely for the exercise of my professional obligations as a lawyer in demanding a fair trial for defendants.
Prior to my detention in Uruguay, I had practiced law for many years with a specialization in criminal law. It was in 1968 that I first began to defend individuals accused of political offenses. It is important to note here that it was during this period, the first in Uruguay's history, that the phenomenon of political prisoners first
Since June 1968 emergency security measures (medidas prontas de seguridad), in essence a state of siege, have been in force in Uruguay. Under the framework of these security measures, which have become routine during the last 16 years, violations of fundamental rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres, have systematically taken place.
It is during this period that torture, which is the subject of this hearing, moved from being an isolated phenomenon and one for which there were legal remedies, to becoming a systematic and widespread practice,