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Revista Médica del Uruguay

versão impressa ISSN 0303-3295versão On-line ISSN 1688-0390


RODRIGUEZ ALMADA, Hugo et al. Methods of torture of State terrorism in Uruguay and medical legal assessment of its abililty to cause severe o very severe lesions. Rev. Méd. Urug. [online]. 2019, vol.35, n.1, pp.101-135.  Epub 01-Mar-2019. ISSN 0303-3295.

Among other missions, Legal Medicine aims to diagnose torture, as a means of contributing to judicial investigations and repair victims. In Uruguay, several administrative and criminal procedures are developed in connection to the times of state terrorism (between June 27, 1973 and February 28, 1985). Despite torture being an indescribable crime against humanity, it was typified in Act 18,026 of September 26, 2006. National jurisprudence has dismissed its classification in the cases that occurred during the times of state terrorism, based on the non-retroactivity principle of criminal law. Simultaneously, the Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Crimes Against Humanity has requested several reports in connection with the possibility that torture methods applied by State terrorism in Uruguay may have caused severe or very severe lesions.

General objective:

To contribute to learning about state terrorist crimes in Uruguay, thus contributing to the creation of international standards for truth, justice, memory and repair.

Specific objectives:

1. To describe the torture methods applied. 2. To determine their ability to cause severe or very severe lesions.


The study was based on national history investigations, as well as jurisprudence in the field, review of international bibliography, pathophysiology of similar situtaions and current national consensus on fact assumptions included in the criminal classification of severe and very severe lesions.


The times of state terrorism in Uruguay have been characterized by the application of large scale torture in a systematic way. The most frequently used methods were hooding, restriction of water, food and rest, exposure to the cold, beating up, including “the phone”, sitting in, hanging, vaults, wet and dry submarine, electric shock baton and sexual assaults. The different methods of physical torture include psychological suffering. By means of specific mechanisms, they are all useful to cause harm that lie within several assumptions of severe and very severe harm crimes. I pregnant women, all of these methods of torture are effective to interrupt pregnancy or anticipate delivery.


There is a pattern in the systematic methods of torture used by state terrorism, which included methods involving omissions, positions, trauma, and electrical shocks and, suffocating. All of them may result in one or more of the assumptions included in the severe or very severe lesions crimes. Risk of life and psychological consequences inherent to torture. In pregnant women, all the methods of torture described are effective to interrupt the pregnancy or anticipate delivery.

Palavras-chave : Torture; Human rights abuses; Forensic Medicine; Uruguay.

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