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Montevideo, May 28th 2024 - 19:58 UTC



Uruguay has new rules for housing of street dwellers in Winter

Wednesday, May 15th 2024 - 16:40 UTC
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Minister Sciarra highlighted the importance of improving the quality of life of homeless people Minister Sciarra highlighted the importance of improving the quality of life of homeless people

An initiative from Uruguay's ruling Multicolor coalition for the compulsory hospitalization of street dwellers has been signed into law, it was reported in Montevideo. The opposition Broad Front (Frente Amplio - FA) was split when voting in the Lower House.

Of the 83 legislators present, 74 supported the motion and 9 opposed it, mainly those from the Communist and the Socialist parties.

Per the new legislation, people of any age in complete isolation and at risk of serious illness or death may now be taken to a healthcare facility even without their consent provided a physician certifies in writing to these conditions. Under the previous norm, this task was entrusted only to licensed psychiatrists but the amendment was introduced given the small number of those professionals nationwide.

The State's power to deprive people who have committed no crime of their freedom has long been a philosophical and political controversy. French social scientist Michel Foucault was one of the first to delve at length into the issue back in the 1970s. It is usually contended that only judges may deprive people of their freedom of movement after a due legal process in which they have been found guilty of a crime calling for such a measure. Foucault has accurately described a psychiatrist's power to do the same without a trial.

The controversy was rekindled in the recent Covid-19 crisis worldwide during which people had their freedom of movement restricted based on medical criteria.

Hence, the Uruguayan law clearly states that bringing these people to “shelters or other places where they may be adequately assisted” does not imply “the correctional deprivation of their freedom.”

In this scenario, Uruguay's Social Development Ministry announced the opening of 24-hour winter shelters with additional room for 1,800 people starting May 15. Minister Alejandro Sciarra highlighted the importance of improving the quality of life of homeless people by providing them with a safer and more comfortable environment during the winter season. The new homes will add to the existing ones.

Sciarra also explained that street dwellers are to be taken to State-funded homes in Ministry vehicles in a joint effort with other government agencies such as the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the State Health Services Administration (ASSE) among others.

Categories: Politics, Uruguay.

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