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Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Paraguay

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 February 2016
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Paraguay, 24 February 2016, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/56d05b249.html [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis 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: Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara

Indigenous Peoples continued to be denied access to their traditional lands. Sexual and reproductive rights were not guaranteed and abortion continued to be criminalized in most cases.

BACKGROUND

In October, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health highlighted that the criminalization of abortion contributes to high rates of early pregnancy and unsafe abortions, and that widespread discrimination and deep inequalities threaten the right to health.

No progress was made in passing legislation on non-discrimination. A bill had been rejected by the Senate at the end of 2014 due to a lack of agreement to include all prohibited grounds. In November, two new draft bills to tackle discrimination were introduced to the Congress.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' RIGHTS

Indigenous Peoples faced delays in acquiring titles and access to their ancestral lands.

In June, a second attempt by a landowner to nullify the 2014 expropriation law – passed to return their land to the Sawhoyamaxa community – was rejected by the Supreme Court. A resolution to a complaint filed by the community against the occupation of their land by the landowner's employees was still pending at the end of the year.

The Yakye Axa community was still unable to resettle on their land – despite an agreement between the authorities and the landowne having been finalized in January 2012 – due to incomplete road works. No government funds were made available for the Xákmok Kásek community to buy their land back from the company owning it, in spite of a 2014 agreement.

The Ayoreo Totobiegosode community denounced the invasion and deforestation of their traditional territory by cattle companies, and the risks to those living in voluntary isolation.[1]

The Ayoreo Atetadiegosode community denounced the deforestation, attacks by private security guards and delay in the regularization of their traditional territory.[2]

IMPUNITY AND JUSTICE SYSTEM

Judicial proceedings against 13 campesinos (peasant farmers) continued for their alleged involvement in the killings of six police officers and other related crimes in the context of a 2012 land dispute in the Curuguaty district. No one was charged for the deaths of 11 peasant farmers who also died during the clashes, raising concerns over the investigation's impartiality.[3]

In July, 12 of the 13 accused campesinos requested to change their lawyers. The legal representatives faced an administrative measure started in 2014 for allegedly delaying the process. The procedure was still ongoing at the end of the year.

In October, the campesinos' trial was suspended for the ninth time, after the defence sought a recusal of the magistrate court, arguing lack of impartiality. The defence's allegations were dismissed and the trial continued at the end of the year.

In July, the appeal court confirmed that there was insufficient evidence to prove Lucía Sandoval's involvement in the killing of her husband in 2011. She filed a complaint for the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband before his death. By the end of the year she had not yet recovered the custody of her children.

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT

Investigations into allegations of torture of campesinos during the 2012 clashes in the Curuguaty district were ongoing. The defence denounced delays and a lack of investigative measures from the Prosecutor's Office.

The trial of three suspects in the deaths of two adolescents in April 2014 at the Itauguá Educational Centre juvenile detention facility was announced in June.

WOMEN'S AND GIRLS' RIGHTS

Legislation that was submitted in March to the Deputy Chamber to prevent and punish violence against women was still being discussed at the end of the year. In June, a public hearing in which civil society organizations commented on the project took place. In May, a bill to prevent and punish sexual violence and establish integral support for victims of sexual abuse was presented to the Deputy Chamber, and was still under debate at the end of the year.

Abortion was only permitted when the life of the woman or girl was at grave risk, and remained criminalized in all other circumstances, including when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or when the foetus would be unable to survive outside the womb.[4]

National and international outrage was generated by the case of a 10-year-old girl who was pregnant after being raped – allegedly by her stepfather – and was denied the possibility of having an abortion in April.[5] A year earlier, the mother had reported the sexual abuse to the Prosecutor's Office, but the case was dismissed. The pregnancy went undetected after visits to several public health centres. After the girl gave birth in August, her family denounced the lack of medical, educational and financial support that had been promised by the authorities.

Investigations into the supposed responsibility of the imprisoned stepfather were ongoing at the end of the year. The mother also faced an investigation for breaching her duty of care; the charges were dismissed in November.

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Lawyers who represented the rights of Indigenous communities and campesinos faced administrative measures in carrying out their work.[6]

In December, a lawyer representing the Sawhoyamaxa and Yakye Axa Indigenous communities was given a warning by the Supreme Court following an administrative investigation for criticizing a judge's ruling on an expropriation law that benefited the community. An appeal to the warning was pending at the end of the year.


[1] Indigenous group in voluntary isolation at risk (AMR 45/2041/2015)

[2] Paraguay: Security guards threatening Indigenous group (AMR 45/2700/2015)

[3] Paraguay: Continúa la impunidad a tres años de las muertes en Curuguaty, 15 June 2015 (News story, 15 June)

[4] Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, June 2015 (AMR 45/2142/2015)

[5] Paraguay: Life of a pregnant 10-year-old girl at risk (AMR 45/1554/2015); Paraguay: Raped 10-year-old must be allowed an abortion (Press release, 29 April)

[6] Administrative inquiry against human rights defender in Paraguay is disproportionate (AMR 45/1476/2015)

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