Prohibition in all settings in Uruguay (2007)
On 20 November 2007, a new law prohibiting all corporal punishment of children (“Proyecto de Ley Sustitutivo – Prohibición del castigo físico”) was passed by a majority vote in the House of Representatives. In August, the bill had been agreed unanimously by the Senate. The prohibition followed closely on the government’s public commitment to implement all the recommendations made in the final report of the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children, which included the recommendation to prohibit all corporal punishment of children by the year 2009.
Previously, the right of parents and others to inflict corporal punishment on children – in the guise of “moderate/adequate correction” – was recognised in the Civil Code (articles 261 and 384) and in the Children and Adolescents Code (article 16). The new law repeals these provisions and explicitly prohibits all corporal punishment and other humiliating or degrading treatment of children. It states (unofficial translation):
Article 1: Include in Law No. 17.823, of 7 September 2004 (Children and Adolescents Code), the following article:
“Article 12bis. Prohibition of physical punishment. It is prohibited for parents, guardians, and all other persons responsible for the care, treatment, education or supervision of children and adolescents, to use physical or any other kind of humiliating punishment as a form of correcting or disciplining children or adolescents.
Uruguay’s Institute for Children and Adolescents, other State institutions and civil society are jointly responsible for:
a) carrying out awareness raising and educational programmes for parents and all others responsible for the care, treatment, education or supervision of children and adolescents;
b) promoting positive, participatory and non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to physical punishment and other forms of humiliating treatment.”
Article 2: Substitute the text of paragraph F, article 16, of Law No. 17.823, of 7 September 2004 (Children and Adolescents Code), with the following:
“f) Correct your children or protégés without the use of physical punishment or any other kind of humiliating treatment.”
Article 3: Abolish article 261 and the second and third clauses of article 384 of the Civil Code.