Covering events from January - December 2002

Head of state and government: Luis Ángel González Macchi
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified

There were reports of excessive use of force by the security forces against anti-government demonstrators, as well as of torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Efforts to advance investigations into past human rights violations made little progress.


Political instability marked the year as protests against the government's economic policies and demanding the resignation of President Luis Ángel González Macchi were repressed by the security forces. There were also demonstrations against privatization plans and a proposed "anti-terrorist" law, which gives a vague definition of "terrorism" and raised concerns that it could be used to repress the legitimate right to protest of trade unions, peasant farmer organizations and others.

Supporters of exiled former General Lino Oviedo continued to campaign for the 10-year prison sentence against him for his part in a 1996 coup attempt to be revoked on the grounds that legal proceedings against him were flawed.

Excessive use of force by the security forces and failure to investigate killings

Anti-government demonstrations turned violent, with several reports of excessive use of force by the security forces and mass detentions of protesters, including children.

  • In demonstrations between May and June, 200 people, including children, were detained in San Patricio town. On 4 June, peasant farmer Calixto Cabral was reportedly shot dead by police in Asunción, the capital. The Ombudsman's Office called for an investigation into his death.
AI called for investigations into the reported excessive use of force by police against demonstrators in Asunción on 17 September, when 116 people were injured and 250 people detained, many of whom were members of opposition parties. Some of the detentions may have been politically motivated. Some of those detained by the security forces were reportedly tortured. The Attorney General praised the police actions, raising doubts about the possibility of investigations into police abuses.

According to Paraguay Human Rights Coordination (CODEHUPY), several peasant farmers involved in land occupations were killed or injured. On 6 October Víctor Díaz Paredes was reportedly killed when police forcibly removed 120 peasant farmers occupying land in Cruce Kimex, San Rafael del Paraná district, Itapúa department. The police claimed they had been fired on by demonstrators, a claim the demonstrators denied.

Torture and ill-treatment

Reports were received of arbitrary detentions and the torture and ill-treatment of detainees by the security forces.
  • Juan Arrom and Anuncio Martí, suspects in a kidnapping case, were held by the security forces at an undisclosed location for 13 days in January. Medical examinations found signs of torture. The apparent implication of senior government and police officials in the illegal detention of the two men led to the resignation of two ministers on 1 February. Two journalists who divulged the identities of police agents allegedly involved in the illegal detention were reportedly threatened by police agents in February. According to the Ombudsman's Office, which played an active role throughout the year in monitoring human rights violations, two other suspects in the same kidnapping case were also tortured.
  • Twelve-year-old Egidio Careaga reported being hit in the stomach and tortured with an electric prod by two policemen in the town of Luque on 9 May. The case was reported to the Office of the Attorney General.
In March a commission including representatives from the government and the Ombudsman's Office published a report on juvenile prison conditions. The commission visited several adult prisons and youth detention centres and found that youths were often detained in cramped conditions and forced to share prison facilities with adults. The commission reported on allegations of ill-treatment by prison guards and adult prisoners and the continued practice of solitary confinement of youths. With the agreement of the Justice Vice-Minister, the commission instructed prison governors to prohibit solitary confinement for youths.

Ill-treatment of conscripts and recruitment of minors

There were more reports of ill-treatment of conscripts in military barracks. In May, four conscripts fled military barracks in Pozo Colorado, Chaco region, alleging sexual abuse by their superiors. The Defence Minister reportedly questioned the veracity of their allegations but called for an investigation. In May Congress approved a law allowing for the ratification of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, prohibiting the obligatory conscription of minors. In October the Human Rights Ombudsman denounced the conscription of three minors. In December a bill which would end obligatory military service and all forms of conscription for those under 18 until their security and physical well-being could be guaranteed was presented to Congress.

In May and November, María Noguera, president of the Association of Relatives of Victims of Obligatory Military Service, received death threats after visiting a conscript who had reported being sexually abused in military barracks.


On 10 May, a judge investigating the "disappearance" of Agustín Goiburu Frutos in 1977 declared former President General Alfredo Stroessner – who ruled Paraguay between 1954 and 1989 – in contempt of court for not cooperating with the investigation. In April a judge ordered the arrest of General Stroessner (in exile in Brazil) and his former Interior Minister, Sabino Montanaro (in exile in Honduras), for their alleged part in the killing of Celestina Pérez in 1974. In August judicial authorities were asked to approach the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek clarification as to whether an extradition request against General Stroessner, ordered by a judge in 2001 for his alleged role in the torture and killing of two brothers in 1974, had been submitted.

In February the Procurator General's Office opposed granting reparations to victims of human rights violations under Law No. 838, arguing that this law had expired. In October the Ombudsman's Office insisted that victims should receive reparation under the law. Despite the controversy, reparations to several victims were initiated. Napoleón Ortigoza, who was illegally detained for 26 years under the Stroessner government, began receiving reparation payments in May.

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