Uruguay scraps ‘dirty war’ amnesty

Source: Al Jazeera

Parliament votes to lift amnesty on alleged crimes against humanity committed under military-backed dictatorship.

Uruguay’s parliament has revoked an amnesty for military officials charged with committing human rights abuses during a crackdown on leftists between 1973 and 1985.

The move ends a deal between the country’s political left and right that has prevented such prosecutions for more than a quarter of a century.

The lower house of parliament voted 50-40 to eliminate the amnesty on Thursday, following a similar vote in the Senate, the upper house.

Jose Mujica, the country’s president, is expected to sign the law before November 1, when, if Congress had not acted, a statute of limitations would have made any new prosecutions for dictatorship-era crimes impossible.

Dozens of suspected leftists were kidnapped and killed during the years of the country’s military-backed dictatorship.

The vote means that a demand from human rights groups that people who were involved in the kidnapping, torture and killing of citizens in the name of the state during that time should be punished is now being met.

In May, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights said that Uruguay must not impose limits on probes into past abuses.

“This is a historic night,” Luis Puig, a ruling Broad Front coalition legislator, said after the vote. “The culture of impunity imposed during 25 years must be dismantled and turned into a culture of human rights.”

The lifting of the amnesty is now subject to supreme court approval. In May, the court ruled that state-sponsored killings committed during the dictatorship should be classified as murders, rather than human rights crimes.

That ruling had imposed the November 1 deadline on any new cases, due to the statute of limitations that murder cases fall under.

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