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Paraguay: Whether members of student movements are targeted by police authorities (2000-2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 15 March 2005
Citation / Document Symbol PRY43425.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Paraguay: Whether members of student movements are targeted by police authorities (2000-2004), 15 March 2005, PRY43425.E, available at: [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.

In a written communication with the Research Directorate, the representative of Decidamos, a Paraguayan non-governmental organization working with student movements, indicated that while relations between police and youth organizations are difficult they have improved (11 March 2005).

A recent case involved two leaders of the National Federation of Secondary Students (Federación Nacional de Estudiantes Secundarios, FENAES) who were detained because of their appearance and clothing (Decidamos 11 March 2005).

The representative of Decidamos stated that on many occasions the members of FENAES were [translation] "severely repressed by police officers" when they took part in demonstrations (ibid.).

As well, according to the Decidamos representative, police officers who entered schools for security purposes tried to control how the students dress and prohibited wearing long hair and piercing (ibid.).

Other information was scarce as to whether members of student movements are targeted by police authorities. However, the following information may be useful.

An article from La Nación indicated that students from the FENAES tried to hand in documents to Senators in the Congress on 2 September 2004, asking them to change a recently amended law on public transit for students (3 Sept. 2004). The article also reported that more police were present at this event than during a demonstration that has taken place the previous week, at the end of August 2004 (ibid.).

The Asunción-based Diario Popular reported that close to 50 students were beaten by police officers during a demonstration organized by the same federation in front of Paraguay's Congress (n.d.).

Other accounts of student demonstrations appeared in La Nación: in 2004 students from the Frente de Defensa de la Universidad Nacional de Asunción y del País (FEUNA) marched against cuts to the university budget (n.d.), and in another demonstration related to the budget, a road near the San Lorenzo Campus of the same university was blocked by students (21 Sept. 2004).

A student, Cynthia Celeste Fretes, was killed in October 2002, when police fired on the car in which she was seated (La Nación 13 Aug. 2004; Ultima Hora n.d.). Sources reported that, in August 2004, police officer Roque Fretes Benitez was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for her murder (La Nación 13 Aug. 2004; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005). While La Nación indicated that the shooting took place [translation] "for unknown motives" (13 Aug. 2004), the paper Ultima Hora said that the police had mistaken the car for a stolen one (n.d.).

Events of March 1999

Country Reports 2002 indicated that, among the 45 arrests made following the March 1999 killing of Vice President Argana and student protesters, only 4 persons had been prosecuted by the end of 2002 (31 March 2003; see also Country Reports 2000 23 Feb. 2001).

Country Reports 2000 provides more details on the events surrounding the March 1999 events:

The March 1999 assassination of Vice President Luis Maria Argana, which has been attributed widely to allies of then-president Raul Cubas Grau, led to political protests in which the police and civilian supporters of President Cubas fired on student demonstrators, killing 7 and injuring over 100 (ibid.).


Some human rights abuses were committed by the security forces and in some cases, "[p]olice used force against illegal but peaceful demonstrations" (Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005). Freedom House stated that freedom of association and assembly "has been undermined" by the lack of action from the previous government (elections took place in April 2003) and its "tolerance of threats" and violence committed by some of its supporters against members of the opposition (14 Sept. 2004).

Although the constitution prohibits such treatment, the Paraguay Human Rights Coordinating Board (Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay – CODEHUPY), a coalition of non-governmental organizations and trade unions, reported on cases of police torture (Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005; Freedom House 14 Sept. 2004). There were also reports of people being detained incommunicado by police forces (ibid.; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005), as well as allegations that governmental officials spied on individuals (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. "Paraguay." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. "Paraguay." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000. 23 February 2001. "Paraguay." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Decidamos [Asunción]. 11 March 2005. Correspondence with a representative.

Diario Popular [Asunción]. n.d. "Garrotearon a Estudiantes Frente a Congreso." [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Freedom House. 14 September 2004. "Paraguay." Freedom in the World 2004. [Accessed 9 March 2005]

La Nación [Asunción]. 21 September 2004. "Estudiantes de la UNA Festejan la Primavera con Cierre de Ruta." [Accessed 8 March 2005]
_____. 3 September 2004. "Estudiantes no Pudieron Entregar Lápices y Cartas a los Senadores." [Accessed 9 March 2005]
_____. 13 August 2004. "Confirman Condena de 12 Años a Policía que Mató a una Joven." [Accessed 8 March 2005]
_____. n.d. "Estudiantes Marcharan por Universidad Gratuita." [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Ultima Hora. n.d. Raúl Ramírez. "Caso Cynthia Celeste: Juicio Oral a Policía acusado de Crimen." [Accessed 8 March 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Casa Juventud and Amnesty International – Paraguay did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sources, including: ABC Color Digital, Amnesty International, Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay, Country Reports 2003, Decidamos, Derechos, European Country of Origin Information Network, Freedom House, International Federation for Human Rights, WNC.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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