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Cámara de Representantes
Parliamentary bodies dealing with human rights :
Human Rights Committee

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Type of parliamentary body Specialized
Nature Permanent
Related to chambers Cámara de Representantes
Date of creation 11 December 1991
Last renewal date
Mandate In accordance with the provisions of Article 115 of the Standing Orders of the Chamber of Representatives approved on 11 December 1991, the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Representatives advises this body and has the following scope: "civil and individual human rights; prevention of abuses and violence against women and children; racial, religious or cultural discrimination issues; prison system and regulations".
Membership In accordance with Article 15 of the Standing Orders of the Chamber of Representatives, at the opening session of each Legislature, a special commission composed of delegates of each parliamentary group will be appointed to determine the number of members of each Standing Committee which cannot be more than 15 or fewer than 3.

It is the President of the Chamber of Representatives who designates, on the basis of proposals from the different parliamentary groups, the various MPs who will sit on the Committees.

During the legislative term, parliamentary groups may, upon written communication to the President, change their members holding posts allotted to them in these committees, and the Chamber of Representatives will be informed accordingly. The Human Rights Committee consists of four members.
Working methods Once a year at the first ordinary session of the Committee, the Committee members appoint a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson; decide on their work schedule (days and times for the Committee to meet); and examine the matters to be taken up with a view to setting priorities.

Generally, the Committee decides which sittings to set aside for examining draft legislation forwarded to the Committee by the Secretariat of the Bureau, and which to set aside for receiving delegations and/or special guests.

The Committee is not empowered to summon governmental authorities; on the other hand, it may invite various competent authorities to contribute to its work.

The Committee is not authorised to conduct investigations of any kind. Article 120 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of fact-finding or legislative committees.

The Committee takes decision by a majority of members, and their application and follow-up are monitored by the individual MPs.
Although the Committee may issue publications, there is no official publication on a permanent basis.
Relations with other parliamentary bodies Existing legislation makes no specific provision with regard to interaction between the different committees. Since all MPs receive on a daily basis the agendas of the different committees which contain the items to be studied, MPs interested in a specific topic may attend the session of the Committee in question, provided that the topic to be dealt with is not confidential.
When there is a common interest in certain topics, authorisation may be given for committees to work together or for a committee with such a topic on its agenda to invite another committee to work together.
Relations with external bodies A draft bill setting up the office of Ombudsman is in the pipeline, though, for the time being, no such post exists; nor is there a national Human Rights Committee.

It should be recalled that the committees in the Uruguayan Parliament play an advisory role, which is why they are not authorised to communicate directly and officially with other State bodies or work with non-governmental organisations. In practice, they remain in contact with State or non-governmental bodies active in the human rights field.
Subjects dealt with Below are some of the topics which the Committee has taken up:
· Minors: introduction of a single registration sheet for mothers and new-born babies; children and teenagers who have been victims of violence; protection of childhood and adolescence.
· Prison system: National Rehabilitation Institute; work regulations for detainees. In this regard, it should be noted that the Committee forms part of a working group (Tripartite Group) along with delegates from the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Public Health, with a view to improving Uruguay's prison system.
· Domestic violence: the current legislature approved Law No. 17.514 of 2 July 2002 on the Protection of victims of domestic violence.
· Sex workers: the current legislature approved Law No. 17.515 of 4 July 2002.
· One of the items on the Committee's agenda is the approval of a bill on crimes against humanity.

In 2006-2009 the Committee discussed the following issues: cooperation with the International Penal Court in the fight against genocide and war crimes, children's rights, institute for children and adolescents in Uruguay, refugees, domestic violence, victims of terrorism, technical assistance for victims of physical, psychological and social abuse, national penitentiary system, human rights situation in penitentiaries.
Main address Avenida de las Leyes
s/n Poder Legislatvo
Phone +598 2 142, Ext. 2244
Fax +598 2 924 81 20
E-mail cdhcrr@parlamento.gub.uy
Website http://www.parlamento.gub.uy
Name Ms. Daniela Payssé
Notes Vice-President
Name Ms. Cristina Piuma
Notes Secretary

Information on this page was last updated on 31 March 2009
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