Uruguay 1966 Constitution (reinstated 1985, reviewed 2004)

Table of Contents

SECTION II. Rights, Duties and Guarantees

Chapter I

Article 7

The inhabitants of the Republic have the right of protection in the enjoyment of life, honor, liberty, security, labor, and property. No one may be deprived of these rights except in conformity with laws which may be enacted for reasons of general interest.

Article 8

All persons are equal before the law, no other distinctions being recognized among them save those of talent and virtue.

Article 9

The establishment of primogenital entailments is prohibited.

No authority of the Republic may grant any title of nobility or hereditary honors or distinctions.

Article 10

Private actions of persons which do not in any way affect the public order or prejudice others shall be outside the jurisdiction of the magistrates.

No inhabitant of the Republic shall be obliged to do what the law does not require, or prevented from doing what it does not prohibit.

Article 11

The sanctity of the home is inviolable. No one may enter it by night without the consent of its master, and by day only at the express order of a competent judge, in writing, and in cases determined by law.

Article 12

No one may be punished or imprisoned without due process of law and a legal sentence.

Article 13

Ordinary law may establish trial by jury in criminal cases.

Article 14

The penalty of confiscation of property may not be imposed for reasons of a political nature.

Article 15

No one may be arrested except in case of flagrante delicto or by written order of a competent judge based on reasonable grounds.

Article 16

In any of the cases contemplated in the preceding article, the judged, under the gravest responsibility, shall take the declaration of the person under arrest within twenty-four hours and shall begin the summary process within forty-eight hours at the most. The declaration of the accused must be taken in the presence of his defender. The latter shall also have the right to attend all summary hearings.

Article 17

In the event of unlawful detention, the interested party or any other person may apply to the competent Judge for a writ of “habeas corpus” to the end that the detaining authority shall immediately explain and justify the legal grounds for such detention, the decision of the aforementioned Judge being final.

Article 18

The laws shall establish the procedure and formalities of trials.

Article 19

Trials by commission are prohibited.

Article 20

The taking of an oath by the accused in making a declaration or confession regarding his own acts is abolished; and it is prohibited that the accused shall be treated as a criminal.

Article 21

Criminal trials in absentia are likewise abolished. The law shall make suitable provision to this effect.

Article 22

Every criminal trial shall begin with an accusation by a complaining witness, or by the public prosecutor, secret examinations being abolished.

Article 23

All judges are responsible before the law for the slightest infringement of the rights of individuals as well as for deviation from the established order of procedure in that respect.

Article 24

The State, the Departmental Governments, the Autonomous Entities, the Decentralized Services, and in general any agency of the State, shall be civilly liable for injury caused to third parties, in the performance of public services, entrusted to their action or direction.

Article 25

Whenever the injury has been caused by their officials, in the performance of their duties or by reason of such performance, in the event they have been guilty of gross negligence or fraud, the corresponding public agency may reclaim from them whatever has been paid as compensation.

Article 26

The death penalty shall not be applied to anyone.

In no case shall brutal treatment be allowed in prisons; they shall be used only as a means of assuring that convicts and prisoners are reeducated, acquire an aptitude for work, and become rehabilitated.

Article 27

In any stage of a criminal trial which will not result in a penitentiary sentence, Judges may place the accused at liberty, under a bond as determined by law.

Article 28

The papers of private individuals, their correspondence, whether epistolary, telegraphic, or of any other nature, are inviolable, and they may never be searched, examined, or intercepted except in conformity with laws which may be enacted for reasons of public interest.

Article 29

The expression of opinion on any subject by word of mouth, private writing, publication in the press, or by any other method of dissemination is entirely free, without prior censorship; but the author, printer or publisher as the case may be, may be held liable, in accordance with law, for abuses which they may commit.

Article 30

Every inhabitant has the right of petition to all or any of the authorities of the Republic.

Article 31

Individual security may not be suspended except with the consent of the General Assembly or, if this has been dissolved or is in recess, the Permanent Commission, and in the event of an extraordinary case of treason or conspiracy against the country; and even then such suspension may be used only for the apprehension of the guilty parties, without prejudice to the provisions of Section 17 of Article 168.

Article 32

The right of property is inviolable, but it is subject to laws enacted in the general interest. No one may be deprived of his property rights except in case of public necessity or utility established by law, and the National Treasury shall always pay just compensation in advance. Whenever expropriation is ordered for reasons of public necessity or utility, the property owners shall be indemnified for loss or damages they may suffer on account of delay, whether the expropriation is actually carried out or not, including those incurred because of variations in the value of the currency.

Article 33

Intellectual property, the rights of authors, inventors, or artists shall be recognized and protected by law.

Article 34

All the artistic or historical wealth of the country, whoever may be its owner, constitutes the cultural treasure of the Nation; it shall be placed under the protection of the State and the law shall establish what is deemed necessary for such protection.

Article 35

No one shall be compelled to render aid of any kind to the army, or to permit his house to be used for the billeting of troops except by order of a civil magistrate according to law, and in such cases he shall receive from the Republic indemnification for loss that may be incurred.

Article 36

Every person may engage in labor, farming, industry, commerce, a profession, or any other lawful activity, save for the limitations imposed by general interest which the law may enact.

Article 37

The entry of any person into the Republic, his residence therein, and his departure with his property, are free, if he obeys the laws, except in cases of prejudice to third parties.

Immigration shall be regulated by law, but in no case shall an immigrant be admitted who has physical, mental, or moral defects which may injure society.

Article 38

The right of peaceful and unarmed public meetings is guaranteed. The exercise of this right may not be denied by any authority of the Republic except in accordance with law, and only insofar as such exercise may prejudice public health, safety or order.

Article 39

All persons have the right to form associations, for any purpose whatsoever, provided they do not form an association which the law has declared unlawful.

Chapter II

Article 40

The family is the basis of our society. The State shall safeguard its moral and material stability so that children may be properly reared within that society.

Article 41

The care and education of children, so that they may attain their fullest physical, intellectual, and social capacity, is the duty and the right of parents. Those who have large families to support are entitled to compensatory aid if they need it.

The law shall provide the necessary measures for the protection of infancy and youth against physical, intellectual, or moral neglect obey their parents or guardians, as well as against exploitation and abuse.

Article 42

Parents have the same duties toward children born outside of wedlock as toward children born within it.

Maternity, regardless of the condition or circumstances of the mother, is entitled to the protection of society and to its assistance in case of destitution.

Article 43

The law shall provide that juvenile delinquency shall be dealt with under a special system in which women will be allowed to participate.

Article 44

The State shall legislate on all questions connected with public health and hygiene, endeavoring to attain the physical, moral, and social improvement of all inhabitants of the country.

It is the duty of all inhabitants to take care of their health as well as to receive treatment in case of illness. The State will provide gratis the means of prevention and treatment to both indigents and those lacking sufficient means.

Article 45

Every inhabitant of the country has the right to a decent home. The law shall seek to ensure hygienic and economical housing, by facilitating the purpose thereof and stimulating the investment of private capital to this end.

Article 46

The State shall give aid [asilo] to the indigent or those [persons] lacking sufficient resources who, for physical or mental inferiority of chronic character, may be incapacitated for work.

The State shall combat social evils through the Law and the International Conventions.

Article 47

The protection of the environment is of general interest. Persons must abstain from any act that causes grave depredation, destruction or contamination to the environment. The law shall regulate this provision and may provide sanctions for transgressors.

Water is a natural resource essential for life.

The access to potable water and the access to sanitation, constitute fundamental human rights.

  1. The national policy concerning water and sanitation shall be based on:
    1. the ordering of the territory, conservation and protection of the Environment and the restoration of nature.
    2. the sustainable management, in solidarity with the future generations, of the hydro resources and the preservation of the hydrological cycle which constitutes [a] matter of public interest. The users and the civil society, shall participate in all the instances of planning, management and control of hydro resources; establishing the hydrological basins [cuencas] as basic unities.
    3. the establishment of priorities for the use of water by regions, basins, or parts of them, having the first priority [be] the provision of potable water to the population.
    4. the principle that the delivery [prestación] of the services of potable water and sanitation, must have preference for reasons of social order over the economic order.

    Any authorization, concession or permission that in any manner infringes the provisions above[,] will be considered of no effect.

  2. The surface waters, as well as the subterranean [waters], with the exception of rain water, composing a hydrological cycle, constitute a unitary resource, subordinate to the general interest, that forms part of the public state domain, as public hydraulic domain.
  3. The public service of sanitation, and the public service of the provision of water for the human consumer will be provided exclusively and directly by state juridical persons.
  4. The law, by three-fifths of the votes of the total of the members of each Chamber, can authorize the supply of water, to another country, when such [country] encounters [the] inability to provide it[,] and for reasons of solidarity.

Article 48

The right of inheritance is guaranteed within the limits established by law. Lineal ascendants and descendants shall have preferential treatment in the tax laws.

Article 49

The “family property”, its constitution, conservation, enjoyment, and transmission shall be protected by special legislation.

Article 50

The State shall orient the foreign trade of the Republic[,] protecting the productive activities committed [destinado] to exportation or which replace imported goods. The law shall promote the investments committed to this end, and shall direct preferentially those committed to public savings.

Every commercial or industrial organization in trust shall be under the controller of the State.

Likewise, the State shall initiate policies of decentralization, in such a way as to promote regional development and the general well-being.

Article 51

The establishment and enforcement of rates for public services operated by firms holding concessions shall be conditional upon their approval by the State or Departmental Governments, as the case may be.

The concessions to which this article refers may in no case be granted in perpetuity.

Article 52

Usury is prohibited. The law fixing a maximum limit on interest rates on loans is of a public character. This law will fix the penalties to be applied to offenders thereunder.

No one may be deprived of his liberty for debts.

Article 53

Labor is under the legal protection of the law.

It is the duty of every inhabitant of the Republic, without prejudice to his freedom, to apply his intellectual or physical energies in a manner which will redound to the benefit of the community, which will endeavor to afford him, with preference to citizens, the possibility of earning his livelihood through the development of some economic activity.

Article 54

The law must recognize the right of every person, performing labor or services as a worker or employee, to independence of moral and civic consciousness; just remuneration; limitation of the working day; a weekly day of rest; and physical and moral health.

The labor of women and of minors under eighteen years of age shall be specially regulated and limited.

Article 55

The law shall regulate the impartial and equitable distribution of labor.

Article 56

Every enterprise, the nature of which requires that the personnel reside on the premise, shall be obliged to provide adequate food and lodging in accordance with conditions which the law may establish.

Article 57

The law shall promote the organization of trade unions, according them charters and issuing regulations for their recognition as juridical persons.

It shall likewise promote the creation of Tribunals of conciliation and arbitration.

The strike is declared to be a right of trade unions. Regulations shall be made governing its exercise and effect, on that basis.

Article 58

Public officials are in the service of the Nation and not of a political party. Any activity alien to their duties is prohibited and political propaganda on their part at their offices or during office hours, shall be considered unlawful.

They may not organize groups for propaganda purposes by using the names of public agencies or any connection their positions may bear to membership in such organizations.

Article 59

The law shall establish civil service regulations on the basis that the official exists for the office and not the office for the official.

Its principles shall apply to subordinate officials:

  1. of the Executive Power, with the exception of the military, police and diplomatic officials, who shall be governed by special laws;
  2. of the Judicial Power and of the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal except with respect to judgeships;
  3. of the Tribunal of Accounts;
  4. of the Electoral Court and its agencies, without prejudice to regulations enacted for the control of political parties;
  5. of the Decentralized Services, without prejudice to whatever may be provided in special laws covering the diverse nature of their functions.

Article 60

The law shall create a Civil Service for the Central Administration, the Autonomous Entities, and the Decentralized Services, which shall have the duties established therein to ensure an efficient administration.

An administrative career service is established for officials covered by the budget of the Central Administration, who are declared to have permanent status, without prejudice to provisions of law that may be enacted on the subject by an absolute majority of the votes of the full membership of each Chamber or under the fourth paragraph of this article.

They may be dismissed only in accordance with rules established by this Constitution.

Officials who are political in character or who have duties of personal trust are not included if given such character by a law approved by an absolute majority of votes of the full membership of each Chamber, and they shall be appointed and are subject to dismissal by the appropriate administrative organ.

Article 61

The civil service regulations shall establish the conditions for admission for career officials and shall regulate the right to permanent status, advancement weekly days of rest, and the system of annual and sick leave; grounds for suspension or transfer; their official duties; and administrative resources against rulings that may affect them, without prejudice to the provisions of Section XVII.

Article 62

The Departmental Governments shall adopt the regulations for their officials in accordance with the rules set forth in the preceding articles, and until this is done the provisions established by law governing public officials shall apply.

To grant permanent status to their officials and to establish positions that are political or of personal trust shall require the approval of three-fifths of the membership of a Departmental Board [Junta Departamental].

Article 63

Within one year following the promulgation of this Constitution, the commercial and industrial Autonomous Entities shall prepare civil service regulations for their officials, such regulations to be subject to the approval of the Executive Power.

These regulations shall contain provisions designed to ensure normal operation of the services and the guarantees established in the preceding articles for public officials, insofar as they can be reconciled with the specific purposes of each Autonomous Entity.

Article 64

By a two-thirds vote of the total membership of each Chamber, the law may establish special regulations which, by their general scope or nature, may be applicable to the officials of all Departmental Governments and all Autonomous Entities, or only to certain ones, as the case may be.

Article 65

The law may authorize the organization of Representative personnel committees within the Autonomous Entities, for purposes of collaboration with their Directors in the enforcement of the regulations, study of budgetary requirements, organization of the services, labor regulations and the application of disciplinary measures.

In public services administered directly or by concession holders, the law may provide for the formation of competent organs to hear disputes between authorities of the services and their employees; and to consider methods and procedures to be used by the public authority to maintain continuity of service.

Article 66

No parliamentary or administrative investigation of irregularities, neglect, or malfeasance shall be considered as completed until the accused official has had an opportunity to submit his answer and to present his defense.

Article 67

The general retirement and social security funds shall be organized in such a way as to guarantee to all workers, employers, employees, and laborers adequate retirement pensions and subsidies in case of accident, sickness, disability, enforced unemployment, etc.; and in case of death, the corresponding pension to their families. The old age pension is the right of those who have reached the limit of their productive age, after long residence in the country, and who lack the means to provide for the necessities of life.

The adjustments to Retirement and Pension assignments cannot be inferior to the variation of the Median Index of Salaries, and will be effected in the same circumstances as adjustments and augmentations in the remuneration of the functionaries of the Central Administration are established.

The benefits specified in the previous paragraph are financed on the basis of:

  1. Worker and employer contributions and other taxes established by law; and
  2. The financial assistance that must be proportional to the State, if deemed necessary.

Article 68

Freedom of education is guaranteed.

The law shall regulate state intervention for the sole purpose of maintaining hygiene, morality, safety and public order.

Every parent or guardian has the right to select the teachers or institutions he desires for the education of his children or wards.

Article 69

Private educational institutions and cultural institutions of the same kind shall be exempt from national and municipal taxes as a subsidy for their services.

Article 70

Primary education and intermediate, agrarian, or industrial education are compulsory.

The State shall promote the development of scientific research and of technical education.

Appropriate legislation shall be enacted to enforce these provisions.

Article 71

Free official primary, intermediate, advanced, industrial, artistic, and physical education is declared to be of social utility, as well as the creation of scholarships for continued study and specialization in cultural, scientific and occupational fields, and the establishment of public libraries.

In all educational institutions special attention shall be paid to the formation of the moral and civic character of students.

Chapter III

Article 72

The enumeration of rights, duties, and guarantees made in this Constitution does not exclude others which are inherent in human beings or which are derived from a republican form of government.