A. SITUATION OF THE PEASANT POPULATION
77. The recommendations are aimed at underscoring the need for vision among the different segments of civil society involved in the issue, in order to propose medium- and long-term strategies for development in rural areas, as well as adequate and equitable distribution of land based on such a development proposal.
78. It is vital to attend to this issue, given that the peasant population accounts for roughly one-half of the total population and is worst hit by the economic crisis that affects Paraguay.
79. The Commission has information regarding ongoing peasant protests in 2001. In addition to the peasant marches in March held by the leading peasant organizations (the National Farmers Federation [Federación Nacional Campesina] (FNC) on March 16, and the National Coordinating Board of Campesino Organizations [Mesa Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas] (MCNOC) together with the North San Pedro Organization [Organización de San Pedro Norte] and the National Coordinating Committee of Rural and Indigenous Women Workers [Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Trabajadoras Rurales e Indígenas] (CONAMURI), on March 26 there were other measures, such as a tractor drivers’ protest and road blockages. All these protests were to demand that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government fulfill the agreements signed.
80. After the above protests in the first half of 2001, Lino Morel took office as Minister of Agriculture. He launched the so-called Family Agriculture Modernization Program (PROMODAF) or Morel Plan as it is also known. The objective of this ambitious plan is “to overcome in three years the economic stagnation of 250,000 farms.” The Commission hopes that this potentially positive initiative manages to achieve the results proposed.
81. On the basis of research into the sector and peasant issues, the Commission considers that the Agrarian Statute is very closely related to the economic, social, and cultural rights of the peasant population and to the future of rural development in Paraguay.
82. In that connection, the Commission highlights the progress toward the adoption of the Agrarian Statute, which it hopes will conclude as soon as possible. The importance of the adoption of the Statute has to do with the fact that it entails major strides forward, such as:
1. Better conception of unproductive latifundia: for instance, the price paid by the State for their expropriation will be the fiscal price; to date the price paid was almost invariably the market value.
2. The beneficiaries of the Agrarian Reform may, depending on their options, establish partnerships to form associative or mixed family settlements.
3. Food security is achieved.
4. The intentions to do away with communal fields is halted, by ratifying and increasing their importance.
5. The Agrarian Statute has already been partially approved in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate has made a number of changes and sent it back to the Chamber of Deputies for further debate. The Commission hopes that it will soon be adopted and enter into force.
B. THE RIGHT TO WORK, TRADE UNION RIGHTS, AND THE RIGHT TO SOCIAL SECURITY
83. In 2001 employment in Paraguay suffered the consequences of the economic recession felt in the country and the region. For the sixth consecutive year the growth of the State of Paraguay was inferior to population growth. In 2001 the recession caused unemployment, wage cuts, and the need to accept precarious and low-quality jobs. For its part, the delicate economic and social situation of Argentina was also a negative factor, since it affected the flow of migrants to that country, which is the main recipient of Paraguay’s unemployed. All the foregoing meant that labor rights continue to be impaired.
84. The Commission, in its Third Report, recommends to the Paraguayan State that it accord due importance and respect to everything in the way of the right to work, trade union rights, and the right to social security, including measures aimed at guaranteeing observance of the minimum wage laws.
85. In particular, the Commission has received information that indicates that the majority of the labor disputes recorded between 1996 and 2001 have been related to wages and violation of collective bargaining agreements; combined they account for 50% of all the causes of disputes over that period.
86. Added to these problems are failure to observe the eight-hour workday, omission by employers to pay social security (IPS) contributions, and non-payment of year-end and other employee bonuses.
87. With respect to the recommendations made by the Commission on social security, attention should be drawn to the fact that disputes over social security coverage are only caused by the failure of employers to make the respective payment to the Social Security Institute (IPS), leaving the worker without the possibility of medical consultation or hospitalization. In addition to the foregoing we should add the inadequate care provided by the social security system and the number of strikes held by IPS employees, which very often caused services to shut down. In that connection, the Commission has information that shows that the basic problems afflicting the social security system have changed little in 2001, except in a few areas where they have worsened:
88. Finally, one issue that the Commission regards as highly relevant is labor reform. In that connection, the Commission mentions that any initiative to make the labor laws more flexible must be compatible with Paraguay’s international obligations on protection for the rights of workers.
C. RIGHT TO HEALTH
89. The Commission mentioned in the pertinent recommendations in the Third Report that the State of Paraguay should accord priority to solving the structural problems related to the right to health for all persons under the jurisdiction of the Paraguayan State.
90. As regards compliance with the above recommendation, the Commission has received information that maternal and child mortality remains very high.
91. The Commission continues to receive information that there is insufficient public spending on health. The deficit in the transfer of resources, particularly in the last three years, causes the hospitals, health centers, and health posts to have practically no supplies, leaving them unable to offer services to the population. The lack of resources and inputs affects all health programs and the possibility of their implementation.
V. RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
92. In its report, the IACHR requested the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (Rapporteur) to prepare the chapter on freedom of expression. On that occasion, the Rapporteur recommended the Paraguayan State to adopt regulatory measures to ensure the effectiveness of the right to freedom of expression; adopt the necessary measures to ensure the adequate distribution of radio frequencies, in keeping with democratic criteria; promote the distinction between public and private persons, decriminalizing slander and libel against public figures; and regulate the right of access to information.
93. In its reply to the Third Report, the State said that it would devote special attention to the adoption of all the necessary legislative and administrative measures, in order to respond effectively to the recommendations contained in this chapter.
94. With respect to protection measures for the right to freedom of expression, the Rapporteur learned of a series of situations that have placed the exercise of that right at risk. The Union of Journalists of Paraguay informed that in January 2001 the journalist Salvador Medina Velázquez was murdered in the area of Capi’ibary, Department of San Pedro. Medina Velázquez had previously received threats and, according to the information supplied, the murder was allegedly caused by the charges and investigations of corruption reported by the journalist on his program on the local radio station (Ñemity). Medina apparently published several articles denouncing the existence of a local criminal organization that engaged in illegal timber trading. According to the information received by the IACHR, on October 16, 2001, the courts sentenced Milcíades Mayling to 25 years in prison for carrying out the crime, but it is still not known who planned this murder.
95. After the conviction of Milcíades Mayling, Medina’s family received a series of threats. One of the brothers of Salvador Medina was abducted for two hours and another of his brothers, Pablo Medina, who is also an investigative journalist and the main instigator of the trial, received death threats.
96. It is important to mention another example of threats and intimidation designed to muzzle the efforts of investigative journalists. On May 7, 2001, the journalist Séver Del Puerto of Radio Cáritase received death threats. According to information furnished by various organizations that work in defense of freedom of expression, the journalists had received those threats in the course of his investigation of the robbery of 40 billion guaranies (US$11 million) from Asunción International Airport in August 2000. That investigation implicated the former interior minister and members of the judiciary. On June 14 Del Puerto applied for protection for himself and his family. According to the most recent information received protection measures were granted and an investigation has been opened.
97. The Rapporteur has not received information about progress in the formalization of the situation of community radio stations. The Community Radio Network in Paraguay reported that many community radio stations, which in recent years have been pursuing the formalities to attain their formalization, have been targets of abuse and censorship by agents of the State. Among examples of these acts, the IACHR was informed that in September 2001, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) applied for a court order for the closure of Radio FM Trinidad based on a complaint alleging illegal use of a frequency lodged with CONATEL by the Asunción Golf Club. According to the information supplied, at that time Radio FM Trinidad, together with other segments of the community launched a campaign denouncing irregularities in the concession of municipal lands to Asunción Golf Club. In November the State, through the chairman of CONATEL, requested the closure of the community radio station, Arandù FM, in the city of Natalio, Itapùa Department, because it regarded it as illegal.
98. Further, the Rapporteur has not received information regarding changes to promote a reform of the laws that criminalize the offences of libel and slander in accordance with the jurisprudence of the inter-American system on the subject, in order to distinguish between public and private persons, by decriminalizing slander and libel against public persons. However, Article 151 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Paraguay of 2001 stipulates that for the offense of libel “the affirmation or disclosure shall not be punishable if, after weighing the interests and the duty to investigate of the author in accordance with the circumstances, it is a question of a commensurate means to protect a public or private interest”.
99. The Union of Journalists of Paraguay has informed the IACHR that in recent months the labor situation of workers in the mass media has suffered a serious decline due to considerable job cuts, a backlog of unpaid wages, and non-payment of compulsory social security contributions.
100. Finally, with respect to adoption of laws and regulations to permit access to information in the possession of the State, on December 13, 2001 the Congress abolished Law 1728, on Administrative Transparency and Free Access to Information. That Law imposed severe restrictions on the right of access of the press to information contained in official documents, obstructing the transparency of administrative affairs and leaving the authorities with huge discretionary power to reject petitions. The IACHR values the initiative implemented by the State at the end of August 2001, in which civil society was invited to participate in a consultation to adopt a new law. On the strength of that initiative, the Alliance for the Defense of Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information presented to the Chamber of Deputies a new bill on Free Access to Public Information that marks a complete change from the abolished Law 1728.
101. Despite the measures adopted by the State to investigate the murder of the journalist Salvador Medina Velázquez and the threats against investigative journalists, the Commission remains deeply concerned at the vulnerability of individuals who work with the media. Also worrying is the closure of community radio stations and the need for mechanisms to establish a legal framework that would enable them to be recognized and function legally. The Rapporteur has mentioned the need to promote progressive policies designed to provide the opportunity for all sectors of the population to express themselves without discrimination, ensuring plurality of information sources, and thus encouraging broad freedom of expression and information.
102. Based on the foregoing information, the IACHR and the Rapporteur recommend the State of Paraguay to continue the investigations to shed light on the murder of the journalist Salvador Medina Velázquez and the threats to his next-of-kin, and to punish those responsible. Further, it recommends the investigations of the threats and intimidation aimed at journalists and other individuals who work with the investigative media, which are designed to silence and have a browbeating effect on the investigation and disclosure of corrupt or illicit behavior by agents of the government or other sectors of authority. It is also recommended to expedite measures to take in hand the labor situation of media workers and to look for ways to regularize the situation of community radio stations. Finally, the Rapporteur mentions its satisfaction at the abrogation of Law 1728 and awaits the promulgation of a law on access to information and transparency in accordance with international standards in this area and with the consensus of Paraguayan civil society.
VI. RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN
103. The recommendations of the IACHR are aimed at the full implementation of the Statute on Children and Adolescents and, in particular, the protection of children and adolescents at risk: street children, child workers, children in the sex trade, and children confined in institutions or prisons.
104. In 2001 there have been several very important acts connected with the compliance of the State with its obligations in the area of the rights of children and adolescents in Paraguay. On balance, those acts entail progress on one hand, and regression and persistence of negative situations on the other. The promulgation of the Code on Children and Adolescents and the creation of the Secretariat for Children and Adolescents are, without doubt, the most important advances. With respect to the juvenile justice system, there was another dramatic episode that led to the permanent closure of the “Panchito Lopez” correctional facility for boys. This constituted progress that paved the way for other improvements, such as the creation of an entity that will coordinate all policy on treatment of youth offenders.
105. The State has also informed the Commission that on March 1, 2002 the Government of Paraguay and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement on a Cooperation Program for 2002-2006. The overall aim of the program is to strengthen national capacity to ensure observance of the rights of children and women, and thereby help to strengthen the rule of law.
106. Following is an analysis of the different issues relating to children, following the same structure that the Commission adopted in its Third Report.
A. LEGAL FRAMEWORK
107. The Commission recommended to the State the approval and prompt implementation of the Children’s Code.
108. In March 2001 the State of Paraguay complied with its undertaking and the above recommendation to adapt its legal framework to the Convention, and to enact the Code on Children and Adolescents (Law 1680). This act is extremely important and is significant for two reasons: one legal and the other practical. Legally it entails a shift from one doctrine to another, from an irregular situation to one of comprehensive protection, which, in practice, requires that children in Paraguay be treated differently hereafter. The Commission hopes that the entire Code will enter into force immediately and that the necessary measures are adopted.
109. For its part, the Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, a body created by the recently adopted Code, is a new and positive institution that will coordinate the system of Protection and Advancement of Children and Adolescents.
110. The State has informed the Commission that the National Secretariat already has an Executive Secretariat, and that in March it would present a proposed law for a budgetary increase to enable to start functioning immediately. The State also said that it would push for the prompt creation of the National Council for Children and Adolescents, as well as of the departmental councils, municipal councils, and municipal departments for the rights of children and adolescents (CONEDI).
111. The State mentions that the new Code creates a special jurisdiction (Jurisdiction of Children and Adolescents), which provides a summary and free procedure, and respects the principles of agreement, immediacy and bilaterality. The State further says that Law 1860 also creates the Office of the Special Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents as an agency of the Public Ministry, as well as Special Juvenile Courts in the Judiciary.
112. Finally, the State said that among the institutions already in operation created by the new Code are the Children’s Defense Councils, the result of a joint effort between local, provincial, and regional governments, and the nongovernmental organization Global Infancia. Other institutions provided for in the new Code are being structured by the Supreme Court of Justice and the Public Ministry through their respective technical offices for judicial reform.
B. PRISON SYSTEM
113. In this area, the Commission recommended to the State the immediate closure of the “Panchito López” correctional facility for minors and that it order the immediate creation of a new center of detention in line with the international obligations assumed by the State.
114. On July 25, a youth inmate of the “Panchito López” correctional facility for minors was murdered by a guard. A riot broke out as a result and the inmates set fire to the prison rendering it unusable. In the wake of these events the Government permanently closed the facility, as the Commission had repeatedly requested.
115. The State also reported that after the fire a commission was set up to inspect all the prisons in the country where there are adolescents. This inter-institutional commission visited nearly all the prisons in two months, and brought about some changes in prison conditions for minors. The IACHR recognizes this commission as a step forward. It is composed of representatives of the executive branch and the judiciary, as well of local and international human rights organizations. There is a positive proposal to make it permanent, in order to monitor prison conditions on a periodic basis.
116. One act of supreme importance is the creation of the National System of Assistance for Youth Offenders (SENAI), an office of the Ministry of Justice and Labor which will be responsible for the design and administration of policies in this sector. This system was created after the events that followed the closure of “Panchito López” .
117. In that respect, the state mentioned in its reply that among the aims of the creation of the SENAI is the fundamental purpose to contribute to the identification measures to prevent situations of lawbreaking, as well as the implementation of concrete initiatives to enable the reinsertion in society and the family environment of adolescents who leave the Education Centers after they have served out the term of confinement imposed by the courts. The State further mentions that juvenile inmates cease to be under the jurisdiction of the General Directorate of Prisons and are instead under the authority of this new non-penal entity.
118. For their part, the continuity and improvement of the Itaguá Specialized Education Center are encouraging. The Commission recognizes that improvements in its buildings as well as methodological contributions have made it possible to provide assistance that is much more in keeping with its recommendations. In that regard, the State reported that the La Salle Integral Education Center was created in December 2001 as a model non-penal facility operating under an open system without armed guards, and capacity to hold 30 adolescents. The fundamental aim of the center is gradually to involve the youths in community services in the areas of education, work, health care, and sports and leisure, as a way to prepare them for a crime-free life after their release.
119. The State also informed that is currently promoting the creation of a Medium-and High-Security Integral Education Center with a view to the transfer of adolescents currently detained at Emboscada Prison, who require specialized attention because their capacity for reintegration and to adapt to institutional rules has become badly deteriorated. It is proposed to implement this initiative in the first four months of the year in progress. Furthermore, the construction is underway of a Regional Education Center in Itapúa, with the collaboration of welfare and civil society organizations in the city of Encarnación.
120. Finally, the government of Paraguay mentioned in its reply its commitment to continue, with internal and external financial support, to explore the creation of new integral education centers in order to provide a lasting solution to the precarious conditions in which juvenile offenders and minors in conflict with the law are held at regional prisons.
C. STREET CHILDREN
121. The Commission recommended that the State foster public policies aimed at ensuring that there are no children living in the street.
122. The Commission is aware that toward the end of 2001 there concluded one of the biggest assistance programs for poor children ever implemented in Paraguay, and another large-scale program was launched to provide assistance to children whose rights are violated.
123. The former is the program of “Assistance for Children that Work in the Street” with funds provided by the Inter-American Development Bank; and the latter is the program of “Assistance for Minors at Risk” with funds provided by the European Union. Both projects were extremely ambitious.
124. To date, these programs have yet to have the expected impact. The Commission has been informed that there is no broader policy to combine the programs and define objectives for medium- and long-term impact; rather, the aim is to alleviate specific problems for limited time.
125. In light of the foregoing, the Commission reiterates to that State that it should direct its measures regarding children toward achieving the objective of comprehensive protection.
126. The Commission cannot neglect to mention an extremely serious act that was harmful to street children, which led to a petition that it received on December 23, 2000. The arrest on November 27, 28, and 29, 2000, of boys and girls who work in the streets by juvenile court judge Mercedes Brítez de Buzó ”was a poverty cleansing operation on the streets of the capital”, according to the Human Rights Coordinator of Paraguay (CODEHUPY), which lodged the aforesaid petition. This organization stresses that in the above-mentioned operation all the due process rules and guarantees with respect to the children were violated and that the incident is a clear demonstration of the insensitivity of the system toward children. The Commission withholds its decision on the merits of the petition, which it will pronounce in accordance with its rules of procedure.
D. CHILD LABOR
127. In this regard, the Commission recommended the State of Paraguay to adopt the necessary provisions to ensure that the international and national legislation on child labor is not violated.
128. The Commission highlights the inclusion in the Children’s Code of provisions governing the various aspects relating to child labor as a positive act of compliance with the above recommendation. The first chapter, on general provisions, provides that labor protection extends to adolescents who are self-employed, employed by another person, and children that engage in unpaid family work. The State also accords adolescents a series of guarantees, such as, for instance, preventive health care, periodic medical examinations, special work hours, etc. (Article 53 - Labor guarantees). The Code goes on to set out provisions on the types of work forbidden to minors and registration of workers. Accordingly the law addresses the different areas covered by comprehensive labor protection standards for adolescents and children. The Commission hopes that these provisions are implemented in full.
E. MISTREATMENT, EXPLOITATION, AND SEXUAL ABUSE
129. The Paraguayan State still does not have institutions that work in this area. The only measures adopted were of a judicial nature, which generally end up victimizing exploited and sexually exploited children and adolescents. Such measures are not backed up with others of a social nature. No follow-up is carried out, with the result that in many cases the adolescents return to the cycle of sexual exploitation. Therefore, the Commission insists on the need to adopt comprehensive policies in that respect.
130. One important negative event occurred at the beginning of 2001 when a person was found guilty of sexually exploiting two adolescents, but the way in which the judgment was delivered (without any precautionary measures in the way of temporary detention of the convicted person pending sentencing) allowed them to escape.
F. CHILD SOLDIERS
131. Based on the friendly settlement procedures in the framework of petitions pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it was agreed to set up an inter-institutional commission composed of representatives of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, as well as human rights organizations, which launched a new initiative of visits to barracks to inspect the documents and situation of conscripts in every unit and detachment in the Occidental and Oriental regions, as well as every police station in the country.
132. The IACHR has received information that the above commission inspected 65 military facilities in the months of July and August 2001. During the visits, several irregularities were found involving youths recruited into military service.
133. The most commonly recurring irregularity found was the conscription of youths who were below the statutory minimum age. It was found that there were 195 cases of young men about to be discharged who were recruited when they were under 17. Their admission was finalized merely with the consent of their parents, whose signatures were certified by justices of the peace, registrars, or notaries. All these cases are in contravention of Law 569 and Decision 167 of the Supreme Court of Justice, which provides that the authorities with jurisdiction over such cases are the juvenile courts in the district of origin of the young person. The representative of the Supreme Court Judge Marcos Kohn, took the decision to prevent the future repetition of this irregularity through the Superintendency of the Supreme Court.
134. As regards adulterated documents (falsification of date of birth, or issue of false documents), the civil registry concluded, after the inspection and verification of the birth certificates, that 24 young men had enlisted with falsified documents that gave their ages as older than they really were. These recruits had birth certificates from civil registry offices which apparently produced those documents, presumably at the request of the military recruiters who travel around the communities of the interior in search of boys for military service.
135. In that connection, administrative inquests were opened into the civil registry officials involved in the production of falsified documents, and their records were sent to the Public Ministry.
136. The Commission values highly all of these positive initiatives and hopes that they will continue to be repeated in the future, in order permanently to eliminate recruitment of minors.
137. Finally, the State has informed, with regard to deaths of children illegally performing military service, that the Public Ministry is pursuing several enquiries and in more than one case has filed criminal charges before the ordinary courts, with a view to an investigation of the facts and punishment of the culprits. With respect to these punishable acts the State reiterates its commitment to ensure that they do not remain unpunished.
VI. RECOMMENDATIONS ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS
138. In its Third Report, the Commission referred in general to the discrimination that affects women in Paraguay, further addressing the situations of sexual and domestic violence, sexual abuse and exploitation, and mistreatment to which they are subjected. It also analyzed levels of segregation in the workplace, of exclusion in the area of health, and education, before finally addressing the alarming problems entailed in the issue of women prisoners. In connection with the foregoing, the Commission made a series of recommendations in order that the State might adopt adequate measures to provide comprehensive protection for women’s rights designed to ensure the effectiveness of the principle of non-discrimination against women in every sphere of public and private life.
139. In its Third Report, the Commission recommended the State to give impetus to the legislative changes still needed to attain complete protection from discrimination for women.
140. In light of the aforementioned recommendation, the State ratified and adopted the following legal provisions:
141. The Commission highlights as extremely positive that on March 8, 2001, International Women’s Day, the legislature adopted the “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, which under Article 137 and 141 of the Constitution is incorporated into the Paraguay’s body of laws with quasi-constitutional status.
142. The Commission recommended the State to implement programs aimed at solving the problem of violence against women, and to provide care and counsel for the victims.
143. With regard to follow-up on this recommendation it is important to mention that the problem of domestic violence against women pervades all sectors and cultures, regardless of income, age or religion. Focusing solely on incidents reported by the press, in Paraguay every 12 days a woman dies at the hands of a man she is romantically involved with, but very few victims dare to file a complaint, and convictions for domestic violence are few.
144. However, the Commission considers that Law 1600 against Domestic Violence, enacted on October 6, 2000, constitutes an improvement in the legal framework essential to ensure women’s human rights. The Commission will continue to monitor the full implementation of that law.
145. In that connection, the State informed the Commission of the work that the Women's Support Center (CENAM) carries out. This group provides assistance and guidance to women who come to them with different problems, in particular violence victims. CENAM has professional attorneys, psychologists, social workers, and specialized guidance counselors. From January to October they handled 1890 cases, of which 1118 concerned complaints of violence.
146. Also underway is a project entitled "Education and Training for Prevention and Treatment of Violence against Women", implemented in cooperation with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Under the project, training is provided to sectors of the national police and health workers.
147. Finally, the State mentioned the importance of another project entitled "Network of Women's Advancement Initiative Centers" (RED CIDEM). These centers are set up at regional governments. Of the 14 centers to be installed, nine are currently operational. These centers are directly in touch with women's realities in the various departments, and they identify and implement measures designed to ensure equal opportunities for women to exercise their economic, social, cultural, and political rights in rural areas. Centers have been set up at Ñeembucú, Concepción, Canindeyú, Caaguazú, Amambay, Itapúa, Caazapá, Alto Paraná, and Cordillera. The State says that these centers are important because they provide comprehensive guidance and support for women on legal, psychological, and health issues. In 2001 RED CIDEM dealt directly with approximately 1,700 women in the above-mentioned areas. Furthermore, the Network provides technical and financial support to implement productive projects to ensure that women in rural areas and indigenous communities might have greater access to economic resources.
148. However, just as the Constitution and the international treaties ratified by Paraguay in the area of human rights provide a framework for equality and non-discrimination between women and men, discriminations persist that, to date, have yet to be addressed by the law. The Commission hopes that these situations are put right and that the law attains full effect. Examples of discrimination include a number of labor provisions and certain situations that arise with respect to women prisoners.
149. The Commission also recommended the State to foster adequate measures to attain equality between men and women in the work place, and to promote the participation of women in public positions, particularly in decision-making positions.
150. With respect to the issue of labor, according to the 2001 Annual Report of the Committee on Equity, Gender and Social Development of the Chamber of Senators, the labor situation of women has changed in terms of proportion and composition, but discrimination persists connected with their gender and recognition of the diverse roles that they play in society.
151. The Commission has received information that women continue to receive unequal salaries compared to men. Regardless of the education level analyzed, men’s salaries are higher on average, and this trend is the same in all zones of residence and economic sectors. Further, examination of the lower-income occupations shows that there are more women than men in such positions.
152. With respect to women prisoners the Commission recommended the State to take the necessary preventive measures to avoid the worsening of prison conditions, and measures to improve their situation, in particular to accord them the same rights as men.
153. The Commission has information that “Buen Pastor de Asunción” is the sole women-only prison in Paraguay. In the country’s interior, women are confined in the various regional prisons with little space, as in the case of Coronel Oviedo regional prison, where adults and minors alike live in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions.
VII. RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
154. The Commission made various recommendations to the State of Paraguay with respect to indigenous peoples. These are examined below:
155. In 2001 the State did not allocate any resources to the payment of compensations for lands affected by indigenous claims, for which reason, at the date of writing of the Report on Paraguay the outstanding claims have not been settled.
156. Further, the IACHR was informed in connection with this point that the draft 2002 National Budget, adopted by the Parliament, allocates the sum of 3,600 million guaranies (approximately US$730,000 at the current rate of exchange) to the Paraguayan Indigenous Institute (INDI) exclusively to pay for the wages of officials, voluntary retirements, and assistance activities.
157. To date, the necessary funds have not been budgeted for the purchase of lands, not even for the payment of those whose purchase has already been resolved by INDI and which are already precariously occupied by indigenous communities, according to the table below:
158. The IACHR also recommended the State to favorably resolve the applications claiming lands put forth by the indigenous communities and pending before Paraguay’s administrative and legislative authorities, to this end annulling the regressive provisions adopted in late 2000. With respect to the claims already resolved, the Inter-American Commission recommends that they be given title in the name of the respective communities.
159. In that connection, the Paraguayan Parliament rejected the petition for expropriation of the land claimed by the Sawhoyamaxa (14,404 hectares) and Xakmok Kásek (10,700 hectares) communities of the Enxet people. This situation led those communities to file a petition with the IACHR against the Paraguayan State on May 15, 2001.
160. In the case of the Yakye Axa community, the IACHR requested the Paraguayan State to adopt precautionary measures to suspend any judicial or administrative order that entails the eviction or removal of the homes of the indigenous community. The Government adopted the measures and the judicial order for the removal of the homes of the indigenous community is currently suspended.
161. In its Report on Actions Taken of March 2002, the Government said with regard to pending land claims, that "there are some cases that preoccupy the State and require prompt solution," such as those of the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyomaxa, and Yakmok Kásek indigenous communities.
162. Furthermore, in its report the Government says that it is exceedingly concerned at the situation of the Yakye Axa, a community that claims 18,179 hectares and which is currently in danger because it is living precariously at the side of the Pozo Colorado-Concepción road. The government says that it is prepared to find a solution that benefits the indigenous community. The Yakye Axa considers that as an emergency measure, the most appropriate course of action is to find as soon as possible an area of the same size quality as that claimed, in order to move the community, subject to its consent and without disregarding the right to the lands that they traditionally occupy or occupied, in accordance with ILO Convention 169.
163. Furthermore, the Government of Paraguay informed the Commission that, as the State proposed at the hearing in December 2001, the Executive, on January 30, 2002, sent to the National Congress a bill "that declares to be in the interests of society and expropriates a fraction of the property owned by the firm Agricultural Development INC situated in the so-called Enxet (Maskoy language) 'Yakye Axa' Community, in the District of Villa Hayes, Presidente Hayes Department, in favor of the Paraguayan Indigenous Institute.”
164. In its report of March 2001, the IACHR recommended the implementation of presidential decree Nº 3,789, of June 23, 1999. It declared a state of emergency in the indigenous communities of Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa, of the Exnet people, and recognized that they have been deprived of access to the traditional means of subsistence linked to their cultural identity; the decree orders that this access be re-established.
165. According to information available to the IACHR with respect to the two communities that benefited from the Decree, on one occasion in 2001 (August 18), the Yakye received a shipment of 840 kilos of staple foods. There is no record of any other type of food or health assistance. It is recalled that 47 families belong to the Yaxye Axa community and 87 families to the Sawhoyamaxa community.
166. With respect to the foregoing, the Government of Paraguay, in its Report on Actions Taken, mentioned that the INDI, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health has provided medical assistance and provisions to the above-mentioned indigenous communities.
167. The IACHR also recommended that the State adopt, as soon as possible, the necessary measures to benefit the indigenous communities so as to improve the implementation of and access to health services. Preventive health and medical care actions should be carried out, with special emphasis on efforts to diminish the high rates of malnutrition, infant mortality, and tuberculosis, and to combat and prevent Chagas’ disease and malaria.
168. According to the publication ABC Color, sick indigenous people continue to die without receiving assistance in el Chaco. Between October 2001 and January, 14 (fourteen) people died of gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, showing symptoms of fever, coughing, and vomiting, as the table below shows:
169. According to information obtained by the IACHR, the efforts made by the State to comply with this recommendation have not been sufficient. According to reports in the Paraguayan press there has been a rising trend in malnutrition among indigenous children.
170. Finally, in relation to legislation on indigenous peoples in Paraguay, on June 12, 2001, the Commission received a communication that said that on the initiative of the executive branch, a bill was before the National Congress intended to “govern the workings of the agencies responsible for national policy on indigenous peoples.” The bill was part of a State reform program, but would be harmful to the indigenous peoples of Paraguay. This was because the procedure for debating the law did not recognize the right of consultation for indigenous peoples, and because of its contents, since it diminished rights already acquired under domestic laws.
171. On June 15, 2001, in order to help the Commission to follow up on the situation of the indigenous peoples of Paraguay, the following information was requested of the Government of Paraguay:
172. On September 10, 2001, the Government of Paraguay sent information to the IACHR, and informed that the processing of the aforementioned bill has been suspended.
173. In its Report on Actions Taken, the Government said that the aforesaid bill was presented to the National Congress by the Secretariat for Reform without the approval of, or having been consulted with, the direct beneficiaries, the indigenous peoples of Paraguay, the government agencies responsible for policy on indigenous affairs, or the Paraguayan Indigenous Institute (INDI). The Government adds that near the end of 2001 the Executive withdrew the above-mentioned bill from Congress, and undertook to hold broad consultations with the indigenous peoples of Paraguay. It says that the Executive will submit a new bill to Parliament based on the observations and recommendations of the National Indigenous Congress.
174. Finally, the Government of Paraguay informed that the National Indigenous Council proposes in 2002 to hold two congresses to conduct consultations on the reform of Law 904. It is anticipated that it will present its decision toward the end of August 2002. Furthermore, the INDI is of the opinion that organic aspects of the Institute require reorganization, in order to provide a better service, but not so the indigenous rights contained in Law 904, which are in accordance with the principles and rights enshrined in ILO Convention 169.
175. The Commission reiterates the importance of consulting indigenous peoples pursuant to the provisions of ILO Convention Nº 169.
In concluding this follow-up report, the IACHR wishes to underscore the following:
1. The Inter-American Commission notes the effort being made by Paraguayan society as a whole to consolidate democracy in the country in a situation fraught with legal and practical difficulties. The Commission reiterates in that connection that representative democracy is inseparable from the ideal enshrined in the Preamble to the American Convention on Human Rights, whereby “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.”
2. The Commission also stresses that the appointment of the Ombudsman is a major step forward in terms of the consolidation of democratic institutions in Paraguay and that, to fulfill its constitutional mandate, it will need institutional and financial autonomy.
3. The Commission reiterates its recommendation to the Paraguayan State to develop short-, medium-, and long-term policies designed to eliminate or reduce as much as possible situations of impunity that entail violations of various human rights. The Commission also considers it essential that the Paraguayan State focus on making every effort to comply with its obligation to investigate and punish those responsible for human rights violations and to make adequate reparation for the grave human rights violations committed during the dictatorship.
4. As regards the administration of justice in Paraguay, the Commission reiterates its recommendation that everything be done to ensure the effectiveness of guarantees of due process and that the necessary steps be taken to implement the new criminal procedures system.
5. The Commission insists on the need to rectify the current state of Paraguayan prisons without delay so that they acquire at least the minimum facilities needed to fulfill the principal purpose of sentences, which is prepare for a reinsertion into society.
6. The Commission attaches top priority to the establishment of a blanket policy of actions against torture, with the participation of the various different stakeholders and activities at various different levels. The National Police, in particular, needs to be examined in depth and its members, at all levels, given fresh training in operation techniques.
7. The Commission urges the State to assign top priority to matters related to economic, social, and cultural rights. In particular, it is recommended that the Paraguayan State attach due importance and respect above all to the right to work, trade-union rights, and the right to social security.
8. In respect of the right to health, the IACHR recommends devising a new health care model that attaches priority to investment in health care, rationalizes and streamlines today’s expenditure patterns in the sector, and monitors and punishes corrupt public administration in the Ministry of Health and the Social Security System. In that connection, the Commission recommends the adoption of urgent measures in favor of the indigenous peoples of El Chaco, given the seriousness of their current health situation, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 14 people in 2001.
9. In seeking to protect freedom of expression, the Commission first reiterates that the Government must democratize radio broadcasting and eliminate discriminatory mechanisms that limit the possibilities of grass roots sectors communicating via community radio stations, which should be safeguarded as a basic tenet of human rights, democracy, and plurality. Second, the Commission emphasizes that, because they handle assets that are public in nature, government officials must go about their work competently and transparently and be doubly exposed to the scrutiny of the press. At the same time, the Commission recommends disseminating the distinction between private and public persons, and derogating the classification of libel and slander against public persons as crimes, which does not preclude the possibility of other kinds of subsequent accountability. Third, the Commission points out that regulations restricting access by the press and the general public to sources of public information should not be established. Rather, there should be, on the contrary, mechanisms safeguarding the right to such access. Finally, the Commission recommends that the State guarantee the security of its citizens and, in particular, those who work in the media and their families, because of the sensitive nature of the social function they perform.
10. As for the rights of the child, the Commission considers that it must be a priority of the Paraguayan State to implement the new Code on Children and Adolescents, which means putting the national protection system and all the institutions created by the new legal framework into effect. This, in turn, presupposes adequate and efficient allocation of resources. The Commission, further, reiterates its concern at the lack of a policy regarding the sexual exploitation of children. The Commission therefore recommends that preventive awareness campaigns and investigations be carried out as a matter of urgency and that those responsible for such acts be punished. The Commission also underscores the importance of ratifying the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the participation of children in armed conflicts.
11. With respect to the status of women, the Commission reminds the State of the need to promote the elimination of laws and institutional practices discriminating against women because of their sex and to draft specific norms adequately punishing discrimination on grounds of gender. It is also recommended that the State actively take legislative, administrative, and judicial steps to ensure equality for women and men at every level of society and to enforce observance of international obligations and commitments, especially those related to violence against women.
12. Finally, with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples, the Commission recommends supporting consultations with the peoples concerned in order to devise appropriate policy, not just in legal terms but also with respect to effective implementation of institutional, financial, and administrative instruments geared to the restitution of indigenous lands and to the effective exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and development. While this process is underway, the State should adopt all possible alternative measures to settle the claims and meet the needs of indigenous peoples
 Assessment report on achievements and progress of the Coordination Team for the study on the Agarian Statute, composed of SEIJA, CARPA CUE, Pastoral Social de Misiones, and CECTEC. October 2001.
 Roberto Villalba, Centro de Documentación y Estudios (CDE), “Movimiento Sindical”. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, p. 226.
 Roberto Paredes, “Derecho a la Seguridad Social”. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, pp. 419, 420.
 Thus, coverage in the capital is 25%, around 20% in the Central and Alto Paraná Departments, and, generally speaking, much lower in the rest of the country.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the "Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 19.
 In the Velásquez Rodríguez case, Judgment of July 29, 1988, paragraph 177, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights maintained that an investigation “must have an objective and be assumed by the State as its own legal duty, not as a step taken by private interests that depends upon the initiative of the victim or his family or upon their offer of proof, without an effective search for the truth by the government.” See also Case 11.739 Report Nº 5/99 Héctor Felix Miranda.
 Union of Journalists of Paraguay, Inter-American Press Association, and Reporters without Borders.
 Community Radio Network, December 17, 2001.
 Community Radio Network, December 17, 2001.
 Código Penal de la Républica de Paraguay, Law Nº 1160/97, Article 151 (Tr. unofficial translation).
 The law prevented the public scrutiny of any ongoing investigation into the conduct of a public official as well as of any government procurements that might give rise to speculation. Information supplied by the Committee to Protect Journalists, July 30, 2001.
 The Alliance for the Defense of Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information was formed by the Union of Journalists of Paraguay and has the support of CODEHUPY, the Consumer Association [Asociación de Usuarios y Consumidores], Sitrande (Electricity workers union) and Comunica (Community Radio Association).
 Roberto Stark, Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia (CDIA), Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, p. 265.
 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Treaties Office, Bulletin N° 9, March 1, 2002.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 20 et seq.
 Report of the Inter-Institutional Commission for Inspection and Monitoring of Prisons for Adolescents.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 13.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 16. See also National System of Assistance for Youth Offenders.
 A significant number of adolescents are confined at adult prisons. At Emboscada Regional Prison for adults there are approximately 80 adolescents, who are held in a separate cellblock.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 15.
 Roberto Stark, Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia (CDIA), Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, p. 265.
 Arreo de niños de las calles fue un “operativo limpieza de pobres”, La Nación, Paraguay , January 4, 2001. See also “Estado debe responder demanda por arreo hecho por jueza”, Última Hora, Paraguay, January 3, 2001.
 Roberto Stark, Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia (CDIA), Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, p. 271.
 See Visit to Military Barracks, Supplementary information.
 “Constatan irregularidades en visita a los cuarteles”, ABC, Paraguay, September 20, 2001.
 Orlando Castillo and Ana Couchonnal, Servicio de Paz y Justicia- Paraguay. Fuerzas Armadas y Derechos Humanos. Study published in Derechos Humanos en Paraguay 2001, published by Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY), Asunción, December 2001, p. 313.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 28.
 Report on actions taken by the State to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights contained in the “Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay”, p. 29.
 Chamber of Senators. Committee on Equity, Gender and Social Development. 2001 Annual Report. Program on Democratic Institution Building II. Asunción, National Congress and Inter-American Development Bank. Chapter on Gender and Women’s Participation, 2001, p. 50.
 See 2002 Report on “Casa el Buen Pastor Women’s Prison”.
 ABC Color newspaper, January 11, 2002.
 On April 19, the M19A organized, with more than 500 people, a road blockage near the Sawhoyamaxa community to protest the rejection of the expropriation and to demand the participation of indigenous peoples in the reform of the law.
 Thursday, January 17, 2002.