University of Minnesota




Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.43, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay, Doc. 13 corr. 1 (1978).


 

 

CHAPTER VIII

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Conclusions

An objective analysis of the information available to the Commission leads to the conclusion that a state of affairs exists in the Republic of Paraguay under which the majority of human rights recognized in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and in other similar instruments, not only are not respected in a manner in keeping with the international commitments assumed by the country, but also have become the object of a practice of constant violation.

The many denunciations received from within Paraguay itself, information compiled by international bodies that visited the country, and a great deal of other data coming from different sources, as well as the silence of the Paraguayan government in the face of the many observations and recommendations made to it over the years by the Commission, enable the latter to conclude that, under the state of siege which has been in force in Paraguay –in uninterrupted fashion—for more than 30 years, grave and numerous acts have been committed in violation of fundamental human rights, and in particular of the following:

1. The right to life. Well-founded bases exist to conclude that various individuals have died at the hands of the authorities under circumstances which have not been properly clarified. Moreover, cases commonly classified as disappearances, involving individuals who had been arrested by the authorities and held for indefinite periods in “unknown” locations, may well constitute instances of violation of the right to life, although, due to a lack of direct evidence, it may not be possible to establish properly their occurrence.

2. The right to security of the person. The use of physical and psychological duress and of every form of cruelty in order to extract confession or to intimidate and humiliate detainees is a constant and continuing practice in Paraguay, as attested to by denunciations and other information received from widely different sources. The foregoing is also suggested by the fact that the Paraguayan authorities impassively receive the transcriptions of such denunciations which are transmitted to them by the Commission, while allowing the time limits established for the receipt of replies to lapse, without commenting on them in any way. In addition to the above, the Commission must note that no information whatsoever has been received regarding the application of sanctions against even a single individual responsible for such inhuman treatment.

3. The right to personal liberty. As noted in this Report, the detentions carried out under the state of siege –that is, without any form of trial or filing of charges—number in the hundreds. Some of the individuals arbitrarily detained in this manner have spent as much as 19 years in prison being brought to trial. Indeterminate detention without charges or trial is aggravated, in many cases, by the holding of individuals incommunicado for indefinite periods.

According to what has been learned, which can be easily ascertained from many sources, these detentions of individuals representative of different political tendencies, for indefinite period of time, not only create an atmosphere of natural anxiety and uncertainty among Paraguayans, but also contribute to the creation of serious obstacles to the free development of national life and to a return to the full legal effectiveness of democratic institutions.

4. The right to a fair trial. As stated in various passages of this Report, individuals detained by virtue of the sate of siege do not enjoy the right to due process of law. They are no brought before a competent judge within the proper time periods, nor are they allowed or provided lawyers to safeguard compliance with procedural norms. The remedies of habeas corpus or amparo are without any effect in theses cases, as there is no court or judge that considers himself competent to grant such a remedy.

Suspected individuals are as a general rule held in places not suited for such purposes or in establishments which fail to meet even the minimal requirements which every prison should satisfy.

Finally, from a number of denunciations it has also been established that lawyers who assume responsibility for defending individuals detained for political reason and, in general, for cases involving the state of siege, are frequently the object of threats and acts of intimidation, including such measures as withholding their license to practice.

5. The right to freedom of expression and dissemination of ideas. Regarding this right, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that in Paraguay the mass media are free neither to report accurately the news nor to express their opinions, This is so despite the fact that publications or broadcast of certain news or commentaries critical of the Government are occasionally ignored.

6. The right of assembly and of association. These rights, established in Articles XXI and XXII of the American Declaration, are frequently violated and ignored in practice. The Commission has in its hands sufficient bases for judgment to state that the Paraguayan Catholic Church and other religious institutions have been the object of persecution directly affecting their seminaries, schools and institutions of higher learning, as well as the development of its social action and assistance programs.

Recommendations

On the basis of all of the foregoing, and in fulfillment of its essential mission, the Commission believes it appropriate to make the following recommendations to the Government of Paraguay, aimed at rectifying the anomalies that have been described above and at guaranteeing protection of human rights in the future:

1. To adopt the measures necessary to lift the state of siege, in view of the fact that it has been extended again and again in uninterrupted fashion over a period of 30 years, as the Commission has observed in various passages of this Report; or, in the event that circumstances of grave danger or public calamity make its maintenance absolutely necessary, to issue without delay in accordance with the corresponding provisions of the Constitution, the regulatory law called for in order to establish the indispensable compatibility which must exist between that institution and permanent respect for fundamental human rights.

These provisions should establish a procedure under which detentions are carried out on written orders issued by competent authorities, with a copy of the same being formally transmitted within a fixed period of time to a member of the family or an individual indicated by the detainee. The order of detention should contain all information necessary to identify with precision the detainee and the individual taking him into custody, as well as the location where the detention is to be carried out and the name and authority ordering the measure.

2. These regulatory provisions should also provide for additional safeguards, such as a medical examination carried out both upon entry and upon departure from places of detention. Above all, the full legal effectiveness of the remedies of habeas corpus and amparo for all classes of detainees should be reestablished or guarantee by means of a special law, in view of the fact that under ordinary procedures these remedies are now considered incompatible with the institution of special powers.

3. To release as soon as possible all individuals detained under the state of siege against whom charges have not been filed; or, should there be legal cause for such action, to submit them immediately to due process of law including a fair trial.

To take all measures necessary to guarantee, with respect to women who have given birth in prison or who have been detained with an infant, the special assistance and consideration which is required which is required due to their situation and that of their small children.

4. To adopt administrative and practical measures aimed at ensuring that any official who commits abuses or uses cruel and inhuman methods against detainees will be made an example and duly punished.

5. To take the necessary measures in order to guarantee the proper protection for lawyers and judges, so that both may properly perform their special tasks.

6. To inform the Commission as soon as possible of the measures adopted in carrying out these recommendations.

 



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