Annual Report: Paraguay 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Paraguay 2013

View More Research

Republic of Paraguay

Head of state and government Federico Franco

There were some advances in the fulfilment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, some communities continued to be denied access to their traditional lands. There were a number of protests over land rights during the year. Concerns persisted over the lack of impartiality and independence of the judiciary.

Background

In June, former President Fernando Lugo was impeached following clashes in the eastern department of Canindeyú in which 11 campesinos (peasant farmers) and six police officers were killed.

In October, a Selection Committee was established to appoint members to the National Mechanism to Prevent Torture. However, members had not been appointed by the end of the year.

Legislation to prevent discrimination remained before Congress at the end of the year. The draft law, which would incorporate international standards into national law, had been under discussion since 2007. There were concerns that Congress might seek to exclude sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination.

A draft law to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women was submitted to Congress in November, but had not been approved by the end of the year.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

Progress was made in resolving the land claims of some Indigenous communities, but other communities continued to be denied their traditional lands.

  • The Sawhoyamaxa continued to live in appalling conditions by the side of a main road because their traditional lands had not been returned to them, despite a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2006 in their favour. In November, negotiations between the authorities and the landowner started again after the community organized protests and a roadblock. No agreement on the land had been reached by the end of the year.
  • In February, an agreement between the authorities and a landowner secured lands claimed by the Yakye Axa. At the end of the year the Yakye Axa were waiting to move onto the land. The community development fund that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had requested be set up in its 2005 ruling had not been established by the end of the year.
  • In August, police tried to evict more than 30 families of an Ava Guaraní community in the Itakyry district. Community members stated that the police burned down a number of huts. The land on which the community had lived for some 70 years was claimed by a commercial company. However, the community argued that they had a legal title to the land.

Justice system

There were allegations that the justice system lacked impartiality and independence and that it was inadequately resourced. Delays in the administration of justice were reported.

Land disputes in the Curuguaty district, Canindeyú department, erupted into clashes between protesters and police in June. Seventeen people – 11 campesinos and six policemen – were killed. In December, 14 campesinos were charged with offences including illegal occupation of land and criminal association; 10 were also charged in connection with the killings of the six policemen. There were concerns at the lack of impartiality of investigations into the clashes, which reportedly focused solely on the actions of protesters. The judicial proceedings against the 14 campesinos were continuing at the end of the year.

Some of those detained in connection with the clashes went on hunger strike to protest their innocence. They stated that they were either not present during the clashes or were not involved.

There were allegations that some of those held in the context of the Curuguaty clashes were tortured. No investigation into these allegations was known to have been initiated by the end of the year.

Various occupations of the same land in Curuguaty had taken place in previous years and judicial processes to determine ownership of the land were continuing at the end of the year.

Human rights defenders

Four members of Iniciativa Amotocodie, an NGO working to protect the rights of uncontacted Ayoreo Indigenous Peoples living in the Paraguayan Chaco region, continued to face legal proceedings on charges including breach of trust.