MEMBERS: Mr. Nejib Bouziri (Tunisia), Mr.
Abdoulaye Dieye (Senegal), Sir Vincent Evans (United Kingdom), Mr.
Manouchehr Ganji (Iran), Mr. Bernhard Graefrath (German Democratic
Republic), Mr. Vladimir Hanga (Romania), Mr. Dejan Janca
(Yugoslavia), Mr. Haissam Kelani (Syrian Arab Republic), Mr. Luben
G. Koulishev (Bulgaria), Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius), Mr.
Andreas v. Mavrommatis (Cyprus), Mr. Anatoly Petrovich Movchan
(Soviet Union), Mr. Torkel Opsahl (Norway), Mr. Julio Prado Vallejo
(Ecuador), Mr. Waleed Sadi (Jordan), Mr. Walter Surma Tarnopolsky
(Canada), Mr. Christian Tomuschat (Federal Republic of Germany), Mr.
Diego Uribe Vargas (Colombia)
Pursuant to rule 85 of the provisional rules of procedure, Mr.
Walter Surma Tarnopolsky did not participate in the consideration of
this communication or in the adoption of this interim decision. All
the members except Mr. Ganji and Mr. Kelani, attended the tenth
session of the Committee.
||Torres Ramirez v. Uruguay, Comm.
4/1977, U.N. Doc. A/35/40, at 121 (HRC 1980)
||Report of the Human Rights
Committee, U.N. GAOR, 35th Sess., Supp. No. 40, U.N. Doc. A/35/40,
Annex VIII, at 121 (Sep. 18, 1980); Office of the U.N. High Comm'r
for Human Rights, Human Rights Committee: Selected Decisions under
the Optional Protocol, Vol. I, at 49, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1, U.N.
Sales No. E.84.XIV.2 (1985)
The Human Rights Committee,
established under article 28 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Meeting on 23 July 1980
Having concluded its consideration of communication No. R.1/4 submitted to
the Committee by William Torres Ramirez under the Optional Protocol to the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
Having taken into account all written information made available to it by
the author of the communication and by the State party concerned;
Adopts the following:
VIEWS UNDER ARTICLE 5(4) OF THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL
1. The author of this communication (initial letter dated 13 February 1977
and further letters dated 22 October 1977, 5 April 1978 and 20 May 1978) is
a Uruguayan national, residing in Mexico. He submitted the communication on
his own behalf.
2. The author claims that on 6 December 1975 he was arrested in his house in
Montevideo by four men in civilian clothes and that he was brought to the "Batallon
de Infanteria No. 13", also called "La Maquina". He describes various forms
of torture to which detainees were allegedly subjected and, in particulars
in his own case the use of submarino (suffocation in water), planton (he was
forced to remain standing for four days), hanging (by his arms, which were
tied together, for about 36 hours) and blows (on one occasion he was
allegedly beaten with such brutality that he had to be transferred to the
After being detained for almost one month, he was forced to sign a written
declaration stating that he had not been mistreated during his detention and
he had to answer a questionnaire about his activities as member of the
Communist Party. On 31 December 1975, he was transferred to the "Regimiento
de Artilleria No. 1" in La Paloma, Cezzo. He states that the conditions of
detention there were, to begin with, a little bit better than in "La Maquina",
but after February 1976 they worsened. He alleges that detainees were
continuously kept blindfolded, that they were subjected to ill-treatment
(lack of food and clothing) and torture (beatings, "plantones") and that
over a period of six months they were allowed to leave their cells for 15
minutes of recreation only eight times. In La Paloma he was again forced to
sign a written declaration that he had not been mistreated and subjected to
The author states that in February 1976 he was brought before a military
Judge for interrogation and in June 1976 he was again brought before the
same Judge who ordered his release subject to appearance at a later stage.
He was, however, still kept in detention. He claims that he never had any
legal assistance, that he was never tried as no charges were brought against
him, and that he was informed by the court that, if he made any change to
his previous written statements, he would be tried for perjury which was an
offence punishable by imprisonment for a period of from three months to
He further alleges that on 1 July 1976 he was transferred to disciplinary
block "B" in another sector of La Paloma where there were nine cells, the
largest measuring 1.2 by 2 metres with two prisoners in each cell.
He states that on 6 August 1976 he was released and one month later he
obtained political asylum in Mexico.
Mr. Torres Ramirez claims that the way he was treated during his detention
virtually excluded any possibility of his having recourse to a legal
counsel. With regard to the exhaustion of domestic remedies he comments that
the only decision which the court made in his case was the one ordering his
release~ consequently he states that recourse to habeas corpus was not
applicable to his case, since he was detained under the "Prompt Security
Finally, Mr. Torres Ramirez states that he did not receive any compensation
after his release.
He submits, therefore, that he was a victim of violations of articles 7, 9
(1, B and 5), 10 (1 and B), 14 (B (b), (c), (d), (e) and (g)), 18 (1 and 2)
and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3. On 26 August 1977, the Human Rights Committee decided to transmit the
communication to the State party, under rule 91 of the provisional rules of
procedure, requesting information and observations relevant to the question
4. By letter dated 27 October 1977 the State party objected to the
admissibility of the communication on two grounds:
(a) the same matter was already being examined by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights;
(b) the alleged victim had not exhausted all available domestic remedies.
5. On 26 January 1978, the Human Rights Committee informed the State party
that, in the absence of more specific information concerning the domestic
remedies said to be available to the author of this communication, and the
effectiveness of those remedies as enforced by the competent authorities in
Uruguay, the Committee was unable to accept that he had failed to exhaust
such remedies and the communication would therefore not be considered
inadmissible in so far as exhaustion of domestic remedies was concerned,
unless the State party gave details of the remedies which it submitted had
been available to the author in the circumstances of his case, together with
evidence that there would be a reasonable prospect that such remedies would
6. By letter dated 5 April 1978 Mr. Torres Ramirez informed the Committee
that his case had been withdrawn from consideration by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights.
7. By letter dated 14 April 1978 the State party submitted information which
consisted of a general description of the rights available to accused
persons in the military criminal tribunals and of the domestic remedies at
their disposal as means of protecting and safeguarding their rights under
the Uruguayan Judicial system. However, it did not specify which remedies
were available to the author in the particular circumstances of his case.
8. By letter dated 20 May 1978 Mr. Torres Ramirez submitted that the
remedies listed by the State party were not applicable in his case because
he had not been put on trial and he was barred from recourse to habeas
corpus because he was detained under the "Prompt Security Measures". He
pointed out that none of the other remedies listed by the State party could
have been utilized in the situation.
9. On 25 July 1978, the Human Rights Committee:
(a) having concluded that article 5 (2) (a) of the Protocol did not preclude
it from declaring the communication admissible, although the same matter had
been submitted to another procedure of international investigation or
settlement, if the matter had been withdrawn from and was no longer under
active consideration in the other body at the time of the Committee's
decision on admissibility;
(b) having concluded that article 5 (2) (b) of the Protocol did not preclude
it from considering a communication received under the Protocol where the
allegations themselves raise issues concerning the availability or
effectiveness of domestic remedies and the State party, when expressly
requested to do so by the Committee, did not provide details on the
availability and effectiveness of domestic remedies in the particular case
(a) that the communication was admissible;
(b) that the text of this decision be transmitted to the State party,
together with the text of the relevant documents, and to the author;
(c) that, in accordance with article 4 (2) of the Optional Protocol, the
State party be requested to submit to the Committee, within six months of
the date of the transmittal to it of this decision, written explanations or
statements clarifying the matter and the remedy, if any, that may have been
taken by it.
10. On 18 April 1979, the Committee decided to remind the State party that
the six-months time limit for the submission of its explanations or
statements under article 4 (2) of the Optional Protocol had expired on 28
March 1979 and requested the State party to submit, not later than six weeks
from the date of the transmittal of this decision to the State party,
observations concerning the substance of the matter under consideration,
including copies of any court orders on decisions of relevance to the matter
11. The Committee's decision of 18 April 1979 was transmitted to the State
party on 18 May 1979. The six weeks referred to therein therefore expired on
2 July 1979. More than three months after that date a further submission,
dated 11 October 1979, was received from the State party.
12. In its further submission of 11 October 1979 the State party while
repeating the views expressed in its submission of 14 April 1978, namely
that the question of admissibility should be reviewed by the Committee in
the light of the explanations given by the State party on domestic
procedures available to the accused and reaffirming its conviction that its
reply of 14 April 1978 should have been sufficient to settle the matter once
and for all, added the following explanations:
Mr. Ramirez was arrested on 6 December 1975 and detained under the "Prompt
Security Measures" for presumed connexion with subversive activities. The
case was taken over by the Military Presiding Judge of first sitting.
On 24 June 1976, an order was issued for his release subject to appearance
at a later date, and on 3 August 1976 the proceedings relating to his case
On 21 October 1976, he took refuge in the Mexican embassy, and left for that
country one week later.
As to the accusations of supposed violations of the Covenant, the State
party claimed those to be groundless, irresponsible and entirely unproved
and, by way of example, submitted the following information as an
invalidation of the falsehoods:
(i) In Uruguay, physical coercion is expressly prohibited by article 26 of
the Constitution and article 7 of Act No. 14,068 and any official who
exceeds his powers and assaults a human being is criminally and civilly
liable as well as incurring administrative responsibility and being subject
(ii) In Uruguay, there are no crimes of opinion and no persons are arrested
for their ideas, but a person who invokes a philosophy or ideology which is
revolutionary or disruptive of the social order freely established by the
overwhelming majority of the people is and remains a common criminal. This
means that the references to articles 18 and 19 of the Covenant are totally
(iii) Administrative detention under the "Prompt Security Measures" does not
require the existence of an offence, but simply serious and imminent danger
to security and public order;
(iv) Act No. 14,068 on the security of the State of 10 July 1972 places
under the Jurisdiction of the military courts persons who commit military
offences, even if they are civilians, and this clearly explains why Mr.
Torres Ramirez, who was arrested for presumed subversive activities, was
placed under their jurisdiction;
(v) The body of provisions which constitute the military codes (Military
Penal Code, Code on the Organization of the Military Courts and Code of
Military Penal Procedure) define in detail the scope of action of the
various organs of the military courts in such a way that the exercise of the
jurisdictional function is hedged about by complete guarantees.
13. The Committee has considered the present communication in the light of
all information made available to it by the parties, as provided in article
5 (1) of the Optional Protocol.
14. With regard to the exhaustion of domestic remedies, the Committee has
been informed by the Government of Uruguay in another case (R.2/9) that the
remedy of habeas corpus is not applicable to persons arrested under the
"Prompt Security Measures". Mr. Torres Ramirez stated that he could not
avail himself of any other judicial remedy because he was never put on
trial. There is no evidence from which the Committee can conclude that there
was any other domestic remedy available to him which he should have
15. The Committee therefore decides to base its views on the following facts
which have either been essentially confirmed by the State party or are
uncontested except for denials of a general character offering no particular
information or explanation: William Torres Ramirez was arrested on 6
December 1975. He was brought before a military judge in February 1976 and
again on 24 June 1976 when an order was issued for his release subject to
appearance at a later date. He was however kept in detention until 6 August
1976. During his detention he did not have access to legal counsel. He had
no legal possibility to apply for habeas corpus.
16. As regards the allegations of ill-treatment the Committee notes that in
his communication of 13 February 1977, the author named the senior officer
responsible for the ill-treatment which he alleged that he received from
January 1976 to June 1976. The State party has adduced no evidence that
these allegations have been duly investigated in accordance with the laws to
which it drew attention in its submission of 11 October 1979. A refutation
of these allegations in general terms is not sufficient. The State party
should have investigated the allegations in accordance with its laws and its
obligations under the Covenant and the Optional Protocol.
17. The Human Rights Committee has considered whether acts and treatment,
which are prima facie not in conformity with the Covenant, could for any
reasons be Justified under the Covenant in the circumstances. The Government
has referred to provisions of Uruguayan law, including the Prompt Security
Measures. However, the Covenant (article 4) does not allow national measures
derogating from any of its provisions except in strictly defined
circumstances, and the Government has not made any submissions of fact or
law to justify such derogation. Moreover, some of the facts referred to
above raise issues under provisions from which the Covenant does not allow
any derogation under any circumstances.
18. The Human Rights Committee acting under article 5 (4) of the Optional
Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is of
the view what these facts, in so far as they continued or have occurred
after 23 March 1976 (the date on which the Covenant entered into force in
respect of Uruguay), disclose violations of the Covenant, in particular:
of articles 7 and 10 (1) because of the treatment he received up to June
of article 9 (1) because he was not released for six weeks after his release
was ordered by the military Judge;
of article 9 (4) because recourse to habeas corpus was not applicable in his
of article 14 (3) because he did not have access to legal assistance.
19. The Committee, accordingly, is of the view that the State party is under
an obligation to provide the victim with effective remedies, including
compensation, for the violations which he has suffered and to take steps to
ensure that similar violations do not occur in the future.