Impact | Negative
Probability | High
Civicus Rating | Open
On April 15, the Constitution and Legislation Committee of the Senate backed the bill which seeks to modify article 224 of the Penal Code, related to the violation of health provisions. Through the reform, it is proposed that a person breaching the provisions in force to prevent the spread of an epidemic or contagious disease, or its introduction into the country, may be punished with 3 to 24 months of imprisonment. The damage to the national economy resulting from the violation will be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
The bill comes after the declaration of a Health Emergency over Covid-19 and the subsequent provisions imposed by the national government to limit disease spread. Until the end of 2020, Uruguay had remained relatively untouched by the pandemic. However, an exponential rise in case-numbers during the summer forced the government to intensify restrictions on movement and assembly. Currently, the country is registering record high numbers of cases and deaths.
The bill was introduced by two pro-government deputies in March last year. In September 2020, the Chamber approved it and it must now be analyzed in the Senate, where it could be sanctioned if there are no changes to the text.
Key figures of Cabildo Abierto party have already stated they will not support the initiative, preferring that the law “determines the situations in which the crime of endangerment is configured”. In fact, they unanimously agreed on proposing modifications to ensure guarantees so as “not to give a blank check allowing the Executive Branch to establish which are crimes and which are not”.