Paraguay Human Rights

Areas of Concern: Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Police and Security Forces, Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Violence against Women and Girls, Human Rights Defenders


A number of violent incidents, including kidnapping and unlawful killings, were reported throughout the year, some of which allegedly involved the Paraguayan People's Army (Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo, EPP), an armed opposition group. In response, a 30-day state of exception was declared in April 2010, covering approximately half of the country. NGOs criticized the vague definition of "terrorism" contained in new anti-terrorism legislation introduced during the state of exception.

In August, Paraguay ratified the International Convention against enforced disappearance. In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education expressed concerns regarding the poor quality of education, lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure, and the lack of viable options for rural populations seeking higher education in Paraguay.

Amnesty International remains concerned with Indigenous Peoples' rights, abuses committed by police and security forces, sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women and girls, and human rights defenders.

Additional Info

Indigenous Peoples' rights

A public policy proposal for social development promoted by the Executive's Social Cabinet and published in February put forward Indigenous Peoples' rights and the need to safeguard their traditional lands as an "emblematic focus" of policy. The proposal cited figures showing that since 2008 Indigenous Peoples had been given title to only 26,119 hectares of land, taking the total expanse of titled territory to 55,970 hectares; the target set by the authorities was to recognize Indigenous title to 279,850 hectares of land by 2013.

In June, the Ministry of Health set up a new Indigenous health directorate. As an important first step, the directorate included ethnicity in forms used across the public health system as a means to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of policies. With the publication of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' judgment in the Xákmok Kásek case in August, Paraguay became the only state under the competence of the Court to have three separate judgments condemning its violation of Indigenous Peoples' rights.

  • There was still no resolution to the Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa land claims, despite Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders dating from 2005 and 2006. A proposal to provide the Yakye Axa community with alternative lands to those of their initial claim was rejected following procedural delays. In September, direct negotiations began between high-ranking government officials and the current owners of the lands claimed by both communities.
  • In the context of a visit to the Puerto Colón area by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples in September, two community leaders from the Kelyenmagategma community received death threats.
  • A scientific expedition organized by the UK-based Natural History Museum, in co-ordination with a Paraguayan environmental NGO and the government Environmental Secretariat, but planned without consultation with Indigenous authorities and representatives, was cancelled in November after concerns were raised that the visit could have a detrimental and irreversible impact on the livelihoods of uncontacted Ayoreo Indigenous Peoples.
  • Investigations into the alleged aerial fumigation of Indigenous communities in Itakyry in 2009 had not yielded results by the end of the year.

Police and security forces and the justice system

There were serious concerns about torture and other ill-treatment, excessive use of force and procedural irregularities by police during raids and detentions, particularly in the context of security operations related to the EPP and the ensuing judicial processes. NGOs presented concerns regarding 12 emblematic cases, also involving violence committed by private individuals, in a closed hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in October.

The declaration of the state of exception in April was based on the justification that "internal upheaval caused by criminal groups operating in the area, [is] placing the normal functioning of constitutional bodies at imminent risk", but the law passed contained many flaws including lack of clarity regarding the rights that would be restricted.

  • In June, two police officers died in Kuruzú de Hierro, Horqueta district, in a reported clash with alleged members of the EPP. Shortly after the incident, special police forces (Fuerza Operativa de la Policía Especializada, FOPE) raided the homes of a number of local residents, provoking allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment. There were concerns regarding the pace of investigation into the allegations.

Sexual and reproductive rights

In September, a Guiding Framework on Sexual Education developed in co-ordination with various government departments, civil society and UN agencies was published by the Education Ministry. The Framework would bring education programs into line with international standards regarding sexual and reproductive rights, with a view to tackling prevalent problems such as sexual abuse and violence.

Violence against women and girls

In September, a child pornography ring operating inside Tacumbú National Penitentiary was discovered, only days after a visit from the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture visited to update recommendations it made in 2009 on prison conditions. It was understood that prisoners invited young girls into the prison, forced them to perform sexual acts which were filmed and later sold. Some prison officials, including the prison director and pastors working within the prison, were alleged to have been involved in the abuse.

Investigations were continuing; the prosecutor's findings had not been published by the end of the year.

Human rights defenders

Statements made during the year demonstrated a serious deterioration in respect for the legitimacy of the role and rights of human rights defenders. Government officials called into question the role of human rights defenders and organizations working on cases related to abuses committed during security operations. This contributed to the wider misrepresentation of the role and work of defenders which was prevalent in the media.

In December, a raid was carried out on the offices of the NGO Iniciativa Amotocodie, weeks after their national and international campaign to stop a scientific expedition to an area where uncontacted tribes were present. The warrant for the raid and the actions of prosecutors implementing it, including the confiscation of documents not related to the charges, broke many procedural guarantees, and appeared to be in reprisal for the organization's work denouncing the expedition.

Paraguay Newsroom

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Paraguay 2013

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 …

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Paraguay 2010

Head of state and government Fernando Lugo Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 6.3 million Life expectancy 71.7 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 44/32 per 1,000 Adult literacy 94.6 per …

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

May 11, 2015 • Press Release

Paraguay: Raped 10-year-old girl continues to be denied the option of an abortion despite national and global outrage

The clock is ticking and Paraguayan authorities are still not ensuring that all options are available for a raped 10-year-old girl, including safe abortion services, Amnesty International and a group of national and international human rights organizations said.

April 29, 2015 • Press Release

Raped 10-Year-Old in Paraguay Must Be Allowed an Abortion

Failure by the Paraguayan authorities to provide a safe abortion to a 10-year-old rape survivor could have devastating consequences on her health and will heap injustice on tragedy, said Amnesty International today. The organization is now calling on the government to intervene to ensure the girl gets all the medical treatment she requires, including the termination of the unwanted pregnancy.

December 17, 2012 • Press Release

Paraguay Authorities Must Investigate Perpetrators of Curuguaty Killings

Amnesty International said today that authorities in Paraguay must ensure all those responsible for the deaths of 11 peasants and six police officers in Curuguaty last June are investigated, including police officers present during the forced eviction.