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).


 

 

INTRODUCTION

I. Background

1. Shortly after the start of its work in October 1960, the Commission began to receive communications from a number of sources denouncing repeated violations of human rights in the territory of the Republic of Paraguay. These communications continued to arrive in increasing number, to the point that at its 2nd session, held in April 1961, the Commission, concerned with the turn the situation of human rights in that country was taking, ordered the preparation of a report thereon. This report was presented and taken up at the third session, held at the end of 1961.

2. Since the violations denounced continued to increase in number and in gravity, the Commission on a number of occasions considered the advisability of visiting Paraguay to study the situation and also ordered preparation of a second report which was presented under the title of “Informaciones sobre la Situación de los Derechos Humanos en la República del Paraguay”[1], and was examined during the 9th session, held in October 1964.

3. During the following session (March 1965), the Chairman and the Executive Secretary of the Commission were authorized to visit Paraguay for the purpose of conducting a direct examination of the actual situation that had so insistently been denounced by a vast number of communications. With that authorization and having duly obtained the Paraguayan government’s permission, Professor Manuel Bianchi and Dr. Luis Reque, who at that time served as Chairman and Executive Secretary of the Commission, respectively, traveled to Asunción on August 11, 1965.

4. As a result of this visit, Professor Bianchi presented a Report[2] at the 12th session (October 1965) that contained the following conclusions:

i. That the Republic of Paraguay was under a permanent state of siege;

ii. That the human rights proclaimed under the Political Constitution of the Republic of Paraguay do not appear to be protected by effective judicial means;

iii. That political proscription continues to be an established practice;

iv. That freedom of the press apparently exists in Paraguay;

v. That the control exercised by the Government Party (the Colorado Party) does not make it possible for the opposition parties to participate freely in the political life of the country.

5. The Report of the Chairman was duly considered by the Commission. In view of the conclusions presented above and bearing in mind that they raised the urgent need for a more in-depth on-site investigation, the Commission authorized Prof. Bianchi to attempt to secure the Paraguayan government’s consent to receive a subcommittee for that purpose. The efforts made in that direction was unsuccessful.

6. In processing the ever-increasing number of denunciations, the Commission received neither replies nor cooperation from the Paraguayan authorities in the majority of cases. Therefore, it had to resort in a considerable number of cases to the procedure established under Article 51,1 of the Regulations, that is, to presume confirmation of the events that have been denounced and duly brought to the attention of the government concerned, if that government has neither confirmed nor invalidated the denunciations within the period stipulated. There follows, as examples, a number of the decisions taken in application of this procedure:

At the 30th session (April 1973) the Commission adopted a Resolution[3] whereby, in application of Article 51,1 of its Regulations, it presumed the illegal arrest of Mr. Antonio Maidana to be confirmed and requested the Paraguayan government to order his release.

During the thirty-first session (October 1973), held in Bogota and Cali, Colombia, the Commission adopted another resolution[4] in which, in light of the same Article 51,1, a number of denunciations of violations of human rights were presumed to be true. These denunciations covered 87 cases of arbitrary arrest and torture in Paraguay.

Both resolutions were forwarded to the Government of Paraguay with the recommendation that the necessary steps be taken to see to it that the individuals involved be released, that those persons responsible be punished, and that the Commission be informed with regard to any measures adopted. The Government of Paraguay has never answered this request.

Consequently, in application of the provisions of Article 9 (bis) c of its Statute and Article 57 of its Regulations, the Commission includes these resolutions in its annual Report for 1973.[5]

7. At both its 36th session (October 1975) and its 38th session (May 1976), held in Washington, the Commission adopted a resolution.[6] In these resolutions, the Commission presumed twelve cases of arbitrary arrests by the Government of Paraguay to be confirmed.

8. At its 29th session (October 1976) the Commission decided to presume the events denounced in Cases 2006 and 2021 to be true, by virtue of Article 51,1 of its Regulations. These two cases cover more that fifty individuals who have disappeared, been illegally arrested or tortured.[7]

9. At that same session, in the face of numerous denunciations of serious violations o the most basic human rights, the Commission decided to prepare a special report on the situation of human rights in Paraguay.

10. On that same occasion it decided to approach the Paraguayan government in an effort to secure its permission for a subcommittee to visit Paraguay in order to complement the information already in the hands of the Commission on the situation of human rights in Paraguay.

11. Pursuant to a mandate of the Commission, Dr. Andrés Aguilar, Chairman of the IACHR, spoke with Mr. Juan Alberto Llanes, the Alternate Delegate of Paraguay to the OAS, on November 6, 1976. He advised him of the Commission’s decision to prepare a report on the overall situation of human rights in Paraguay to request the Paraguayan Government’s consent for an on-site visit investigation. In connection with the latter point, Mr. Llanes was informed that the Commission had decided to convey this decision on a confidential basis, so as to look into the possibility of an invitation extended by his Government.

12. At the 40th session (special) the Commission, in view of the fact that the Government of Paraguay had not responded to the confidential overture, decided to request formally permission for a subcommittee of the IACHR to visit Paraguay in order to conduct an on-site observation of the situation of human rights in that country. This request was transmitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Dr. Alberto Nogués, in the following cable of February 4, 1977:

INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, MEETING IN WASHINGTON AT ITS FORTIETH SESSION (SPECIAL), DECIDED TO REQUEST OF YOUR EXCELLENCY’S GOVERNMENT PERMISSION FOR A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THIS ORGAN TO VISIT PARAGUAY IN ORDER TO CONDUCT AN OBSERVATION IN LOCO ON THE SERIOUS AND CONTINUING ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGTHS IN THAT COUNTRY RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSION. WE MAKE THIS REQUEST IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISSIONS OF THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF ARTICLE ELEVEN OF THE COMMISSION’S STATUTE. WE WOULD LIKE APPRECIATE A RESPONSE TO THIS REQUEST FROM YOUR EXCELLENCY’S GOVERNMENT BEFORE THE TENTH OF THIS MONTH BECAUSE THE PRESENT SESSION ENDS ON THE ELEVENTH. RESPECTFULLY

ANDRES AGUILAR
CHAIRMAN

13. In reply to this cable, the Minister of Foreign Affairs sent the following cable on February 9, 1977:

I REFER TO YOUR TELEX OF FEBRUARY 4 IN WHICH YOU REQUEST THE PRESENCE OF A SUBCOMMITTEE IN PARAGUAYAN TERRITORY TO CONDUCT AND OBSERVATION IN LOCO “CONCERNING SERIOUS AND CONTINUING ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS” IN MY COUNTRY. FIRST, MR. CHAIRMAN, I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF PARAGUAY DULY RECOGNIZES THE NOBLE WORK OF THE COMMISSION OVER WHICH YOU EMINENTLY PRESIDE, OF ENCOURAGING RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INOUR HEMISPHERE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LOFTY PRINCIPLES EXPRESSLY SET FORTH IN THE CHAPTER OF THE ORGANIZATION. THIS HAS, OF COURSE, BEEN THE CONSTANT CONCERN OF THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT OF PARAGUAY.

IN TRUTH, IN 1958 AND 1959 WE HAD TO CONTAIN AN ARMED INCURSION, TRAINED ON FIRING RANGES IN A NEIGHBORING COUNTRY, AS PART OF A COMMUNIST ACTION WHICH IN A NUMBER OF SUBSEQUENT ISOLATED INCIDENTS ATTEMPTED TO DISRUPT THE PEACE, ORDER AND TRANQUILITY OF THE REPUBLIC. IN THE COURSE OF THESE LAWLESS ESCAPADES, THE ATTACKING HORDES COMMITTED ALL MANNER OF OUTRAGES AGAINST DEFENSELESS PEASANTS AND THE REGULAR FORCES OF THE NATIONAL ARMY. THE MACABRE HANGING OF CADET ALBERTO ANASTASIO BENITES, FOR EXAMPLE, WAS A MEASURE OF THE SINISTER PURPOSES OF THE CULPRITS. THUS IT WAS THAT IN DEFENSE OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF PARAGUAY, WHICH WAS SO SERIOUSLY IMPARILED, THE GOVERNMENT, EXCERCISING ITS LEGITIMATE POWERS, HAD TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR DEFENSE BY ADOPTING THE NECESSARY MEASURES.

IN PARAGUAY, DESPITE INTENSE MARXIST PROPAGANDA CIRCULATED IN ALL FORMS IN COMPLICITY WITH A SECTOR OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES, THERE HAS BEEN NO REPETITION OF THOSE SHAMFUL EVENTS, WHICH BLEMISH THE PRESTIGE OF THE AMERICAS. MY COUNTRY LIVES IN A CLIMATE OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY WHERE THE LEGITIMATELY CONSTITUTED POWERS EXERCISE THEIR INDISPUTABLE AUTHORITY IN GOOD CONSCIENCE AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION OF 1967, RATIFIED BY ALL DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL PARTIES.

IN DEFENSE OF THOSE HUMAN RIGHTS CONTINUALLY THREATENED BY THE ENEMIES OF OUR NATION, THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY APPLIES THOSE PRECEPTS THAT EMPOWER IT TO MAINTAIN LAW AND ORDER. I AM AIDED BY THE CONVICTION THAT ALL THE DENUNCIATIONS RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSIONS OF WHICH YOU ARE CHAIRMAN ARE BASED ON ERRONEOUS INFORMATION OR ON A DECEITFUL ATTEMPT TO DO INJURY TO MY COUNTRY’S NAME.

FOR THAT REASON, MR. CHAIRMAN, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF THE CHAPTER, OF THE AMERICAN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN, AND OF THE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSION OVER WHICH YOU PRESIDE, THE GOVERNMENT OF MY COUNTRY IS READY TO PROVIDE SUCH INFORMATION AS IS DEEMED NECESSARY TO DEMOSTRTE THAT THE ACCUSATIONS DIRECTED AGAINST PARAGUAY IN THE AREA OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARE TOTALLY FALSE, WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT, AS STATED IN ARTICLE 10 OF THE STATUTE, “THE RIGHTS OF EACH MAN ARE LIMITED BY THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS, BY THE SECURITY OF ALL, AND BY THE JUST DEMANDS OF THE GENERAL WELFARE AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF DEMOCRACY”.

THE TRUTH IS, MR. CHAIRMAN, THAT PARAGUAYANS LIVE UNDER THE RULE OF LAW, PROTECTED BY LAW AND BY AUTHORITY, WITH A MODERN CONSTITUION, WITH THE FREE PARTICIPATION OF NONMARXIST POLITICAL PARTIES, FREEDOM TO EXPRESS IDEAS AND BELIFIES, FREEDOM OF COMUNICATION, FREEDOM OF PRIVE ENTERPRISE, AND A SURE AWARENESS OF DIGNITY AND NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE.

ONCE POLITICAL PARTY, LA ASOCIACION NACIONAL REPUBLICANA PARTIDO COLORADO, LENDS BROAD SUPPORT TO THIS PATRIOTIC EFFORT AND IS BY AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY AND WITH A CLEAR CIVIC AWARENESS THE UNDENIABLE VOICE OF THE PARAGUAYAN CITIZENRY.

WITH THESE REMARKS I CAN OFFER YOU THE ASSURANCE THAT MY COUNTRY, PARAGUAY, HONORS ITS COMMINTMENT TO UPHOLD THE GENERAL WELL-BEING AND DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE POSITION IT HAS THE HONOR TO HOLD AMONG THE AMERICAN NATIONS.

ACCEPTS, EXCELLENCY, THE RENEWED ASSURANCES OF MY HIGHEST CONSIDERATION.

ALBERTO NOGUES

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

OF THE REPUBLIC OF PARAGUAY

14. Since the permission requested was neither granted nor expressly denied in this communications, the Commission sent another cable to the Foreign Minister on February 11, 1977:

THE COMMISSION THANKS HIS EXCELLENCY FOR THE CABLE OF FEBRUARY 9 WHEREBY YOU RESPOND, WITHIN THE ESTABLISHED PERIOD, TO OUR COMMUNICATIONS OF FEBRUARY 4. AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, THE GOVERNMENT OF PARAGUAY HAS DECIDED NOT TO GRANT THE PERMISSION REQUESTED IN OUR CABLE OF FEBRUARY 4. HOWEVER, PROMTED BY THE PRAISE FOR THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION AND BY THE STATEMENT TO THE EFFECT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF PARAGUAY IS WILLING TO PROVIDE SUCH INFORMATION AS IS DEEMED APPROPRIATE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF THE CHARTER, OF THE AMERICAN DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MAN, AND OF THE STATUTE AND REGULATION OF THIS COMMISSION, WE HAVE DECIDED TO REQUEST YOUR EXCELLENCY’S GOVERNEMENT THAT IT KINDLY INFORM US BY CABLE WHETHER THE COOPERATION BEING OFFERED IN THESE TERMS WOULD OR WOULD NOT PERMIT THE OBSERVATION IN LOCO FOR WHICH PERMISSION WAS REQUESTED IN OUR CABLE OF FEBRUARY 4.

ON BEHALF OF THE COMMISSION AND IN MY OWN BEHALF AS WELL, ACCEPT, EXCELLENCY, THE RENEWED ASSURANCES OF MY HIGHEST CONSIDERATION.

ANDRES AGUILAR

CHAIRMAN

15. In response to this communication, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay sent the following cable, dated February 18, 1977 to the Chairman of the Commission:

WITH REFERENCE OT YOUR CABLE OF FEBRUARY ELEVEN, IT IS MY DUTY TO INFORM YOU THAT THE ALTERNATE REPRESENTATIVE, MR. JUAN ALBERTO LLANES, WHO RETURNED YESTERDAY TO WASHINGTON, IS CARRYING INSTRUCTIONS IN THIS REGARD. RESPECTFULLY.

ALBERTO NOGUES

MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

OF PARAGUAY

16. On March 18, 1977, Mr. Llanes, the Alternate Delegate of Paraguay to the OAS, visited the Commission’s offices for the purpose of carrying out the instructions referred to in the cable of February 18. These statements were put in written form by the Secretariat of the Commission in an Aide-Memoire, which was then forwarded to Mr. Llanes, who made certain changes in it. There follows the text of that Aide-Memoire, thus amended:

Mr. Llanes spoke with two officials of the IACHR Secretariat, Dr. Charles Moyer and Dr. Juan Roberto Eskenasy, and informed them that the Government of Paraguay is willing to cooperate with the work of the Commission and that the cable of February 9 should not be taken as a denial rejection of the request for permission for the on-site investigation. He said that for reasons of domestic politics, and official visit by the IACHR is not at present advisable, but that the possibility of a visit might be considered on some future occasion at the initiative of the Government of Paraguay.

He nevertheless felt that a visit of this kind is not the sole means by which to obtain valid information, when the Government itself states that it is willing to provide such information as is deemed necessary to demonstrate that the accusations directed against Paraguay in the area of human rights are utterly false.

The Acting Representative stated that the Paraguayan government’s interest in cooperating with the Commission can be seen in the cable of February 9 where it is pointed out that the Government ‘duly recognizes the noble work of the Commission of encouraging respect for human rights in our hemisphere and this has of course been the constant concern of the present Government of Paraguay.

Likewise, he asked that he be given the case or cases regarding which his Government had been asked to provide information, in order to ensure a proper response to these requests.

17. At its 41st session (May 1977), the Commission approved the report on the situation of human rights in Paraguay, preparation of which had been agreed upon at its 39th session. That report was forwarded to the Government of Paraguay on June 6. In a note dated August 9, 1977, the Government of Paraguay transmitted its observations on that report to the Commission.

18. On September 11, 1977, the Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the OAS, Dr. Mario López Escobar, sent the following communication:

Mr. Executive Secretary:

I have the honor to present, with the request that it be forwarded to the addressee, the text of the telegram which the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Dr. ALBERTO NOGUES, sent today through this permanent Mission to Dr. ANDRES AGUILAR, Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which reads as follows:

His Excellency

Mr. Andrés Aguilar

Chairman of the Inter-American Commission

on Human Rights of the Organization of

American States

Washington, D.C.

On August 10 of this year I had the honor to hand over personally to Your Excellency a document containing the observations of the Government of my country to the ‘Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay’, prepared by the Commission over which you eminently preside.

On that occasion I told Your Excellency that the Paraguayan Government, taking into consideration basic questions involving its own Foreign policy on the one hand, and in additions, the fact that the country was preparing general elections, preferred that the Commission’s visit for which permission had been requested on February 4th of this year, not take place.

Following up my note of August 9, I would like to reiterate, Mr. Chairman, that I am convinced that when the Commission studies our ‘observations’ it will no longer consider its visit to Paraguay necessary. Nevertheless, should the Commission not share this opinion, which we feel is in order, the Paraguayan government is willing to receive your visit on a date to be determined by common agreetment.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of highest consideration.

(s): Alberto NOGUES

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay.

Attached hereto, I am enclosing the original of the cable quoted above, which this Permanent Mission received today, September 12, 1977.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Mario López Escobar

Ambassador

Permanent Representative

19. In light of this communication and after a detailed study of the observations made by the Government of Paraguay, at its 42nd session (October-November 1977), the Commission ratified its decision to conduct an on-site investigation in that country and, pursuant to a mandate of the IACHR, the Chairman of the Commission sent the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay the following letter, dated November 8:

Excellency:

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt our Your Excellency’s note of September 12, wherein, after making reference to the transmittal of the document containing the observations made by the Government of your country to the “Report of the Commission on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, you add that the Paraguayan government is willing to receive a visit by the Commission, should the latter still consider such a visit necessary, on mutually convenient date.

In reply, I would like to inform Your Excellency that the Commission while recognizing that the explanations and data provided by that document have been useful and helpful in carrying out its delicate tasks, it is of the unanimous opinion that the planned visit would be the best means by which to form a direct and objective opinion on the matters that is has under study. Therefore, it plans to conduct such a visit, taking advantage of the positive attitude which, through Your Excellency, the Commission has been shown.

Soon, before, the close of the Commission’s present session, I shall have the pleasure of contacting the Representative of Paraguay to the Organization of American States regarding the details of the visit, the schedule of activities that the Commission will conduct during that visit, and the facilities and cooperation that the Commission hopes to receive from Paraguayan authorities in order to carry out those activities.

On behalf of the Commission, I would like to thank Your Excellency for the valued cooperation that Paraguay has been so kind as to provide to the Commission. Please accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Andrés Aguilar

Chairman

20. Despite repeated attempts since that time to contact official Paraguayan representatives both by the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Andrés Aguilar, and by the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr. Edmundo Vargas Carreño, in an effort to determine the date and the details of the visit to Paraguay, the Commission has not yet received a concrete reply from the authorities that would enable it to establish a definitive program for the visit.

21. In view of this situation and the time that has elapsed since the date on which these efforts were initiated, the Commission, pursuant to a decision adopted at its 553rd meeting (42nd session), held on November 11, 1977, has updated this report on the situation of human rights in Paraguay as of December 31, 1977, taking into account, among other factors, the observations received from the Paraguayan government, and will submit it to the competent organs of the Organization for consideration.

II. Format of the Report

22. This report follows the same format used in other reports of the Commission. It has been divided into separate chapters, following the order in which the various human rights appear in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The pertinent article of the Declaration has been included at the beginning of each chapter, while the corresponding article of the American Convention on Human Rights has been included in a footnote at the bottom of the page. The Convention, signed in San José, Costa Rica, on November 22, 1969, by Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, will enter into force as soon as eleven states have deposited their respective instruments of ratification or accession. Those rights with regard to which the Commission has not received denunciations meriting special consideration have been omitted.[8]

23. Therefore, this study begins with a chapter outlining those norms of the Paraguayan legal system available to the Commission, insofar as they relate to the enforcement and protection of human rights.

 


Notes_____________________

 

[1] OEA/Ser.L/V/II.10, doc. 2, 8 de septiembre de 1964. This document is a summary of the major political events that took place in Paraguay between 1960 and 1964. It also contains a brief analysis of the Constitution of 1940, with particular reference to the guarantees recognized in the area of human rights, and an account of the denunciations of violations of human rights in Paraguay received by the Commission.

[2] Misión a la República del Paraguay, Informe del Presidente de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre su visita a la República del Paraguay. OEA/Ser.L/V/II.13, doc 5, 30 de septiembre de 1965.

[3] Resolution on Case 1741 (Paraguay), OEA/Ser.L/V/II.30, doc. 40, rev. 1, 27 April 1973. See Chapter III of this Report.

[4] Resolution on Cases 1758, 1759, 172 and 1763 (Paraguay). OEA/Ser.L/V/II.31, doc. 42, rev. 1, 23 October 1973. See Chapters III and IV of this Report.

[5] OEA/Ser.P/AG/doc. 409/74, 5 March 1974.

[6] Resolution on Case 1843 (Paraguay), OEA/Ser/L/V/II.36, doc. 29, rev. 1, 16 October 1975. See Chapter III of this Report. Resolution on Case 1988 (Paraguay). OEA/Ser.L/V/II.38, doc. 20, 2 June 1976. See Chapter III and IV of this Report.

[7] Resolution on Case 2006 (Paraguay), OEA/Ser.L/V/II.41, doc. 10, 13 May 1977. See chapters III and IV of this Report. Resolution on Case 2021 (Paraguay), OEA/Ser.L/V/II.41, doc. 8, 12 May 1977. See Chapters II, III and IV of this Report.

[8] It should be pointed out that the Commission has received denunciations with regard to the treatment of the Indians of the “Aché” Tribe. This is a small community that has managed to maintain its traditional life-style and is therefore described as today being a distinctive cultural group within Paraguay. The denunciations allege that the Government of Paraguay has knowingly tolerated serious abuses of that tribe to the point where its survival as a group has been jeopardized. The Commission is devoting proper attention to this matter, with which it has already concerned itself, and will make known its position and decision on the matter at some future date.

 



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