In March 2009, in his then function as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak together with his team conducted an official fact-finding mission on the invitation of the government of Uruguay, enjoying its full cooperation. Although they did not find much evidence of torture, they were alarmed at the inhuman conditions of detention, most notably in the prisons of Libertad and COMCAR. Although the report of the Special Rapporteur was considered to be tough, it was nevertheless accepted in a remarkable spirit of self-reflection and cooperation. The team was even more encouraged that the current government of President Mujica has made the implementation of their recommendations a priority of its criminal justice reform efforts.
By way of example, several achievements should be mentioned: the establishment of the National Institute for Rehabilitation and the efforts to hire civilian prison staff; the support for a comprehensive reform of the Criminal Procedure Code; the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism within the National Human Rights Institution; the reorganisation of the institution responsible for juvenile offenders; and the renovation and construction of new detention facilities; all of which meant great financial contributions from the side of the State. In addition, the transparency and openness of the current Government to hold a dialogue with different stakeholders is commendable.
Therefore Uruguay was chosen as one of the four project countries of the Atlas of Torture project.