15/ At the 1412th
meeting (fifty-third session) held on 5 April 1995.
193. The Committee welcomes
the initial report submitted by the State party and views with satisfaction
the cooperative attitude of the delegation in engaging in the dialogue
with the Committee. It regrets, however, that the report, while providing
detailed information on prevailing legislation in Paraguay, does not adequately
deal with the actual state of implementation of the Covenant in practice
and the difficulties encountered during implementation. Although the information
provided orally by the delegation has addressed some of the concerns of
the Committee, the Committee has obtained only a partial picture of the
human rights situation in the country.
194. The Committee commends
the State party for the core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.24), which has been
drawn up in accordance with the consolidated guidelines for the initial
part of reports to be submitted by States parties under the various international
human rights instruments (HRI/1991/1).
2. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
195. The Committee recognizes
that the State party, which is emerging from a change of government in
1989 that ended a long period of dictatorial rule, is undergoing a transition
towards democracy in which the infrastructure necessary for the implementation
of the Covenant has not been fully developed. The Committee understands
that the many encouraging legislative initiatives with respect to human
rights are being implemented with difficulty, and that a full assessment
of such implementation is not yet possible.
3. Positive aspects
196. The Committee notes with
satisfaction Paraguay's continuous progress since 1989 in its efforts
to democratize and to match its level of human rights protection with
international standards. It particularly welcomes the signing and ratification
of a number of international human rights instruments, including the Covenant
and the First Optional Protocol, and the legislative and administrative
steps taken to advance their implementation. The Committee also commends
the State party for ratifying the Covenant without entering any reservations.
197. The Committee particularly
welcomes the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, which incorporates
provisions for the protection of civil and political rights and grants
constitutional status to a number of international human rights instruments,
including the Covenant, thus elevating them above national law.
198. The Committee further
welcomes the creation of machinery to receive complaints and manage various
aspects of human rights issues, including the Directorate-General for
Human Rights under the Ministry of Justice and Labour, the Office of the
Ombudsman, and the Human Rights Commissions established in the two Chambers
199. The Committee welcomes
the amendments made to the Civil Code in 1992 and other relevant legislation
that advanced the equal enjoyment of civil and political rights by women.
It also welcomes the establishment of the Women's Secretariat.
200. The Committee appreciates
the declaration made by the delegation according to which the Government
will not enact any amnesty law, and that, on the contrary, concrete steps
have already or are being taken to make accountable perpetrators of human
rights abuses under the past dictatorial regime. It notes in this regard
that such laws, where adopted, are preventing appropriate investigation
and punishment of perpetrators of past human rights violations, undermine
efforts to establish respect for human rights, further contribute to an
atmosphere of impunity among perpetrators of human rights violations,
and constitute impediments to efforts undertaken to consolidate democracy
and promote respect for human rights.
201. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the Government's initiative to make public the military's
archives, thus enabling individuals to file complaints based on the information
contained in those archives.
202. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the incorporation of human rights issues into the formal
secondary education curriculum.
203. The Committee welcomes
Paraguay's efforts to modernize the judicial process with international
assistance. It also notes that a revision of the Penal Code and the Code
of Criminal Procedure is under way.
204. The Committee takes note
of the will of the State party to ratify the Second Optional Protocol
to the Covenant on the abolition of the death penalty.
4. Principal subjects of concern
205. The Committee regrets
that no information was provided about the compensation of victims of
human rights violations during the dictatorship.
206. The Committee expresses
concern about the continuing occurrence of torture and ill-treatment of
detainees, even after the restoration of democracy in 1989. In this connection,
the Committee is concerned that there remain officials who are identified
and committed to the authoritarian practices of the former regime.
207. The Committee is concerned
that, despite constitutional guarantees for the rights of women, women
continue to receive unequal treatment in Paraguay, owing in part to outdated
laws that clearly contradict the provisions of the Covenant. These would
include laws that are more lenient in instances of infanticide committed
to protect the honour of a woman than in ordinary cases of homicide and
laws that make distinctions in the punishment accorded to persons who
rape or abduct women depending on the marital status of the victim. It
further notes that labour laws do not adequately protect the rights of
women. It notes that domestic work, which is a principal occupation among
women, is excluded from minimum wage laws.
208. The Committee expresses
its concern about the high level of deaths among expectant mothers referred
to in the report. In this regard, it regrets that the State party could
not provide information about the effect of the enforcement of abortion
laws on this high level of deaths.
209. The Committee is concerned
that national laws in conflict with the Constitution remain on the books.
In addition, some constitutional provisions, such as the right to compensation
for violation of rights (art. 39), still require implementing laws.
210. The Committee notes with
concern the practice of not separating accused from convicted persons
in prisons, which violates article 10, paragraph 2 (a), of the Covenant.
The Committee also notes with concern that there are not sufficient measures
to limit pre-trial detention, which makes such detention a common practice
rather than an exceptional measure. In the view of the Committee, the
conditions in the law do not provide sufficient justification for pre-trial
detention in the absence of a reasonable possibility of escape from justice
or danger to the community.
211. The Committee expresses
concern about the lack of information regarding the independence of the
judiciary, principally as to the security of tenure.
212. The Committee is concerned
that the predominant role of the Catholic Church in Paraguay appears to
lead to certain de facto discrimination against other religions.
213. The Committee is concerned
that poverty and lack of education, particularly among indigenous people,
adversely affect many people in their ability to enjoy civil and political
214. The Committee notes that
the restriction on voting for students of military schools seems to be
an unreasonable restriction on article 25 of the Covenant on the right
to participate in public life.
5. Suggestions and recommendations
215. Regarding the application
of the Covenant, the Committee requests that it be informed in future
periodic reports of the State party of any instances that may arise where
the Covenant was directly invoked in the courts, as well as the results
of any such proceedings.
216. The Committee commends
the State party, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Covenant,
for its efforts to bring to justice perpetrators of past human rights
abuses. It urges the State party to continue to investigate allegations
of human rights violations, past and present, for which purpose all archives
of the past regime should be carefully explored. It further urges the
State party to act on the findings of its investigations, to bring to
justice the perpetrators and to provide proper compensation to the victims,
particularly with respect to continuing occurrences of torture and ill-treatment
by the police and security forces. The Committee recommends that an independent
and credible mechanism be instituted for dealing with complaints of police
violence and that the existence of this mechanism be publicized.
217. The Committee urges the
State party to comply with article 10, paragraph 2 (a), of the Covenant
by separating in prison accused persons from convicted prisoners. The
Committee further recommends that the State party review its laws and
practices concerning pre-trial detention to ensure that such detention
is not regarded as the general rule and that, where it is imposed, its
period is subject to strict limits, in conformity with article 4 of the
218. The Committee recommends
that all national legislation on women be reviewed with a view to modernizing
the outdated legal standards currently in force to bring them into line
with the relevant provisions of the Covenant. The Committee recommends
in particular that the State party review its laws on criminal offences
committed against women and all labour laws that discriminate against
women and take the measures necessary to overcome traditional attitudes
concerning the role of women in society. It further recommends that the
State party encourage the political participation of women in public,
particularly in political life, which remains low despite the legal advances
that have reduced restrictions in this area.
219. The Committee requests
the State party to provide information in its next report about the incidence
of illegal abortion, the relationship between illegal abortions and the
high incidence of maternal mortality, and its implementation of article
61 of the Constitution.
220. The Committee recommends
that the State party undertake a thorough review of its national legislation
to ensure conformity with the standards set by both the Constitution and
the Covenant. It recommends in this connection that the Covenant and the
specific recommendations made in the present comments be taken into account
in the revision of the Penal Code currently under way.
221. The Committee recommends
that the State party include in its next report comprehensive information
on the issues raised during the consideration of the report, particularly
on the effectiveness of the laws under review or in existence, the evolving
roles of the institutions established for the protection of human rights,
and the system of coordination of the various institutions.
222. The Committee recommends
that the State party include information in its next report on the procedures
established to ensure compliance with the views and recommendations adopted
by the Committee under the First Optional Protocol, also bearing in mind
its obligations under article 2 of the Covenant.
223. The Committee recommends
that the Covenant, the Optional Protocols and the Committee's comments
be widely disseminated among the Paraguayan public and that the scope
of human rights education be extended to members of the police and security
forces, the legal profession and other persons involved in the administration
of justice, with a view to making it a part of their regular training.