Amnesty International Report 2002 - Paraguay
|Publication Date||28 May 2002|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2002 - Paraguay , 28 May 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3cf4bc0420.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Republic of Paraguay
Head of state and government: Luis Ángel González Macchi
Population: 5.6 million
Official languages: Spanish, Guaraní
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
2001 treaty ratifications/signatures: Optional Protocol to the UN Women's Convention; Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
There were continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment of criminal suspects, including minors; and of excessive use of force by the security forces in the context of demonstrations and land disputes. The government committed itself to putting an end to the recruitment of minors into the armed forces.
Judicial proceedings in connection with the alleged torture of dozens of members of the army and police after a failed coup attempt in May 2000 continued. High-ranking members of the former government and of the security forces were implicated in these abuses.
President Luis Ángel González Macchi remained in office, despite various attempts by opposition politicians to have him dismissed and large demonstrations against him and his government in Asunción and other cities in August and September.
In October, Manuel María Páez Monge was appointed as Ombudsman, a post which had been vacant since its establishment nine years earlier.
In the wake of the attacks on 11 September in the USA, approximately 17 people of Arab origin were detained by the security forces. Three were subsequently released and one was expelled from the country. There was concern that they may have been arbitrarily detained solely on the basis of their ethnic origin. The 13 who remained in detention faced charges regarding their immigration status.
A judicial request by the Paraguayan government for the extradition of former General Lino Oviedo, who led a failed coup attempt in 1996 and was implicated in the killing of Vice-President Argaña in 1999, was rejected by the Brazilian courts in December. In the same month the Paraguayan judicial authorities submitted a request for the extradition of former General Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled the country between 1954 and 1989, for his alleged role in the torture and killing of two brothers in November 1974.
In March, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published its third periodic report on Paraguay. The Commission stated, in relation to human rights violations committed under the government of former General Stroessner, that: "To date, most of those violations have not been investigated or punished, nor have the victims of those violations or their next-of-kin been compensated". The Paraguayan government stated that a National Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights had been devised and would include the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission. No information had been received on the operation of this commission by the end of the year.
Torture and ill-treatment
Torture and ill-treatment by members of the security forces continued to be reported.
- On 7 April, Jorge Herebia, Rafael Pereira, Oscar Acuña, Diego Acosta and Jimmy Orlando Dos Santos were reportedly beaten by a prison guard in front of other detainees in the Panchito López juvenile detention centre. The previous day their cases had been presented to visiting AI delegates. Four of the detainees were subsequently transferred to adult prisons. Diego Acosta was held handcuffed in an isolation cell for several days and then transferred to another juvenile detention centre.
- The Panchito López juvenile detention centre was destroyed by fire in July, before all inmates could be transferred to alternative juvenile facilities. Around 240 detainees remained in the Panchito López detention centre at the time of the fire. They were transferred to two adult prisons. There were concerns that these juvenile detainees were being held in extremely overcrowded conditions, were often subjected to solitary confinement and were exposed to ill-treatment by guards.
There were further reports of the recruitment of children into the armed forces and national police. In April 2001, the president of the Senate Human Rights Commission announced that the Commission would visit military barracks in Chaco department to investigate the presence of child soldiers and the conditions in which conscripts carried out their military service. In July and August, 195 cases of juveniles enlisted before their 17th birthdays in military units were uncovered. The Minister of Defence stated that action would be taken against those who falsified documents in order to recruit children under 18 years of age.
More deaths of conscripts undertaking obligatory military service were reported.
- Seventeen-year-old Héctor Adán Maciel died on 10 April from a gunshot wound, reportedly after being shot by another conscript. He had reportedly been illegally recruited when he was 16 and had served at the Artillery Command in Paraguarí department.
There were frequent reports that police used excessive force against criminal suspects; demonstrators, including minors; and in the context of land disputes. The authorities frequently failed to initiate criminal investigations into killings in the context of social disputes.
- Interior Minister Julio César Fanego defended the possible excessive use of force by police who killed five men allegedly carrying out a robbery in March.
- On 9 March, it was reported that eight teachers participating in a demonstration were seriously injured and approximately 100 others injured when police used force to break up the demonstrators in the J. Eulogio Estigarribia district of Caaguazú department.
- On 28 July landless peasant farmer Nicolás Amarilla was killed in the course of land demonstrations in San Rafael del Paraná, Itapúa department. Information received indicated that judicial investigations into this killing had not been initiated by the end of the year.
- Paraguay: Conscription – recruitment of children, routine ill-treatment and unexplained deaths (AI Index: AMR 45/002/2001)
- Paraguay: Panchito López Juvenile Detention Centre – an opportunity for the Government of Paraguay to meet its promises (AI Index: AMR 45/004/2001)
AI delegates visited Paraguay in April.