The Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights (the
"Commission" or "IACHR") released its Report on the
Human Rights Situation in Paraguay today.
The Commission is a principal organ of the Organization of American
States responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in the
Hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent experts who serve on behalf
of all the member states of the OAS. The members of the IACHR are:
Dean Claudio Grossman, President;
Dr. Juan E. Méndez, First Vice-President; Marta Altolaguirre, Second Vice-President; Dr. Hélio Bicudo, Prof. Robert K. Goldman,
Dr. Peter Laurie, and Dr. Julio Prado Vallejo.
The Executive Secretary of
the IACHR is Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana and the Assistant
Executive Secretary, Dr.
David J. Padilla.
The report was prepared using information and documents received
before, during, and after the Commission’s on-site visit to the Republic
of Paraguay, conducted from July 28 to 30, 1999 at the invitation of that
country’s government. Pursuant to the Commission’s Rules of Procedure, a
preliminary report was
transmitted to the Paraguayan State, which in turn made comments and
observations and contributed information on certain specific questions.
That information was analyzed and incorporated, where relevant, into
the report. The Commission
approved the final report on March 9, 2001.
In the report, the Commission examines different aspects of the human
rights situation in Paraguay. It
contains chapters on the legal system and protection of human rights; the
progression of the democratic institutional framework in the country; the
administration of justice, and the right
to personal liberty ,
torture on police premises, and prison conditions.
There is also a chapter on economic, social, and cultural rights,
which addresses various elements of the effective exercise of those rights
in Paraguay and refers to extreme poverty and its relation to human rights. The report also contains specific chapters on the right to
freedom of expression, the rights of the child, the rights of women, and the
rights of indigenous peoples.
The Commission’s report highlights the human rights standards
adopted in Paraguay’s 1992 Constitution and other national laws, as well
as Paraguay’s ratification of almost all the inter-American human rights
conventions. The Commission
also stresses that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the
Paraguayan State have established offices dealing exclusively with human
rights issues and the recent agreement reached among the three branches of
government to prepare a National Plan for the Promotion and Protection of
Human Rights. The IACHR also
stresses the work of Paraguayan nongovernmental organizations to promote and
protect human rights in that country.
5. In its report, the Commission examines the human rights-related efforts it observed in Paraguay, such as the work of Paraguayan society as a whole to strengthen democracy in that country, in a framework of difficult legal and factual circumstances affecting that process. In that context, the IACHR states that, “representative democracy cannot stray from the provisions of the preamble to the American Convention, which states that ’the ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear and want can be achieved only if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.’”
Some of the main elements that
have an overall impact on the exercise of human rights in Paraguay are
related to impunity, corruption, and poverty in that country. The IACHR also
stresses that no Ombudsman has been appointed yet–an institution
established in the 1992 Constitution of Paraguay. In that regard, the
Commission states in its report that, “one very important exception that
affects the transition to a full democratic institutional framework in
Paraguay is the failure to appoint an Ombudsman, as provided for in the 1992
Constitution. This is a
serious, unacceptable breach of the Constitution of Paraguay.
The Commission expresses serious concern for this omission of an
organ of proven importance in other countries for protecting human rights.
The IACHR urges the Paraguayan State again to comply with its
Constitution and proceed with the immediate, urgent appointment of an
Commission hopes that the State will take the necessary steps to continue to
make progress in strengthening democracy and the full observance of human
rights in Paraguay and to seek solutions to the serious human rights
problems affecting inhabitants of that country.
In particular, the Commission urges the State to implement and
enforce the recommendations contained in the report.
The Inter-American Commission deems it essential that the opinion of
nongovernmental organizations and other members of civil society be borne in
mind when examining solutions to problems.
The Inter-American Commission offers to work with the Paraguayan
State on promotion and protection activities and for the necessary
consultations to move forward in resolving human rights problems. Finally, the Commission wishes to reiterate its appreciation
to the Paraguayan State and civil society organizations for their
cooperation during its on-site visit to Paraguay and for their cooperation
and the information they provided for the preparation of the report. The
full text of the report is available on the Commission’s web page:
D.C., March 21, 2001