From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC UPDATE: Uruguay: Kobia calls on to investigate

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Wed, 24 Nov 2004 10:08:57 +0100

World Council of Churches - Update
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
For immediate release - 23/11/2004


Free photos available, see below

The government of Uruguay should implement the necessary measures to enact
article fourth of the so-called Expiry Law of the Punitive Powers of the
State which mandates the executive branch to investigate what happened to the
disappeared. This was the central message that World Council of Churches
(WCC) general gecretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia offered authorities during his
visit to this country November 17-18. 

"Knowing the truth about human rights violations is one of the essential
elements to come to terms with the past and establish the foundation for a
possible reconciliation," said Kobia when he met with vice president-elect
senator Rodolfo Nin Novoa and with municipal mayor of Montevideo Mariano
Arana Sanchez. 

At both meetings, Kobia affirmed the need to create a strong investigative
commission, with the necessary powers and resources to carry out its task.
With his comments, the WCC general secretary supported one of the demands of
the Mothers and Relatives of Detained-Disappeared Uruguayans, with whom he
met at the beginning of his visit. 

Both Nin Novoa and Arana Sanchez agreed that families have a right to know
the fate of their loved ones. They also voiced the willingness of the new
government, which will take office March 1, 2005, to enact the legal
disposition although they recognized that it will not be an easy task. 

The so-called Expiry Law of the Punitive Powers of the State, approved by
grassroots referendum in 1986, bars the state from legally persecuting those
responsible for human rights violations committed during the military
dictatorship that governed the country between 1973 and 1985. The fourth
article, however, did mandate the executive branch will investigating what
happened with the disappeared but has not yet been implemented.

During the meeting with representatives from the Mothers and Relatives
organization, Kobia committed the WCC to lobbying for truth and justice
before authorities as well as to support work being carried out in the United
Nations to define a Convention on forced disappearances. 

Kobia's visit to Uruguay also included meetings with representatives from WCC
member churches and from other churches and faith communities, as well as
ecumenical organizations. In Montevideo, the WCC general secretary
participated in an ecumenical celebration at the Methodist Church and offered
the sermon. 

During a visit to Colonia Valdense, some 120 kilometers from the capital city
of Montevideo, Kobia had the opportunity to meet with members of a local
Waldensian congregation as well as other churches and dialogue about the
current ecumenical panorama. 

There he was also able to visit the Emmanuel Center, an ecumenical training
and events center that also includes an ecological farm. 

Free high resolution photos are available in: > Press Corner > Latin America visit

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more
than 120 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions.
The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with
the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets
approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Samuel Kobia
from the Methodist church in Kenya.

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