Montevideo, Uruguay

15 June 2011

Secretary-General's remarks at visit to Punta Rieles Penitentiary Centre [as prepared for delivery]

Minister Bonomi,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Buenos dias.

I am extremely honoured by your invitation to visit the Penitentiary Centre of Punta Rieles.

Mr. Minister, you and so many Uruguayans suffered in prison during the dictatorship and I am deeply moved to be here with you today.

It is not every day that a Government allows the United Nations -- let alone the Secretary-General -- to review its efforts to promote prison reform. I know this is national priority for your government, but it also an example for the world.

I applaud your commitment to follow the recommendations of the UN human rights bodies, including Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak.

Reform of penitentiary systems is not an easy task.

I recognize your tremendous efforts –from the Government, and in particular the Interior Ministry, as well as from Uruguayan society as a whole. I also commend your decision to stress inmates' rehabilitation and reinsertion into society.

I understand this is the 15th joint United Nations' programme with Uruguay.

I am very pleased at your confidence in the UN system to work on such a complex issue.

I am particularly encouraged that our assistance is in coordination with Spain and the EU. This demonstrates that the wider international community is also committed to supporting national priorities.

This is an excellent example of the role that the UN can play in middle income countries, bringing specialized expertise to bear on complex topics and in areas where national resources and national political commitment are leading the way.

I appreciate once again this opportunity. And I thank you for all of your work.

Muchas gracias.