1.          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR” or “Commission”) is a principal organ of the Organization of American States established to promote the observance and defense of human rights and to serve as a consultative body of the Organization in this area.


          2.          The Commission, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States of America, is made up of seven members proposed by the member countries of the OAS and chosen by the General Assembly of the OAS to serve in a personal capacity. Members serve a four-year term, and may be re-elected for one additional term.  Each year the members elect their board of officers, made up of one president and two vice-presidents.  The Commission also has an Executive Secretariat, made up of one Executive Secretary, two Assistant Executive Secretaries, and the attorneys and administrative staff needed to perform its functions.  The Executive Secretariat operates permanently at the headquarters of the IACHR.


          3.          In the pursuit of its objectives of promoting and protecting human rights, the IACHR performs a series of functions in the framework of the American Convention on Human Rights (“American Convention” or “Convention”), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, and other international treaties, and the Statute and Rules of Procedure of the IACHR.  Those functions have to do, among other things, with attending to individual petitions and cases of human rights violations; precautionary measures, as necessary to prevent irreparable harm to persons; on-site visits to OAS member countries, undertaken with respect to a specific case before the Commission,[1] for a general observation of the human rights situation in a given country, or to make a specific observation regarding a given issue or situation;[2] preparing different types of reports, both general and special; and the work done through the thematic rapporteur on specific human rights-related issues.


          4.          As part of its functions, the IACHR regularly monitors the human rights situation in the OAS member countries.  In this context, the Commission has been following the human rights situation in Paraguay for several years.[3] 

          5.          The Republic of Paraguay has a total area of 406,752 km2, and borders Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. It has two well-differentiated natural regions, divided by the Paraguay river:  Western and Eastern.  The west, also known as the Chaco, is a semi-arid region that includes approximately 60% of the total area and is home to approximately 2% of the inhabitants of Paraguay.  The eastern region, covering other 40% of the territory and inhabited by 98% of the population, is where most of the country’s economic activity takes place, mainly agriculture and forestry.  The east includes the capital city, Asunción, which as of the last census had a population of some 500,000.  Half of the country’s population lives in urban areas, half in rural areas.[4]


          6.          On April 12, 1999, the Paraguayan State invited the IACHR to make an on-site visit to Paraguay; this invitation was accepted by the IACHR to observe the general human rights situation.  The visit took place from July 28 to 30, 1999, under the American Convention, to which Paraguay is a party, and the IACHR’s Statute and Regulations.   The following members of the Commission participated on the visit:  Professor Robert K. Goldman (then-Chairman); Hélio Bicudo (then First Vice-Chairman); Dean Claudio Grossman (then Second Vice-Chairman); Professor Carlos Ayala Corao; and Alvaro Tirado Mejía.   Also participating were IACHR Executive Secretary Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana; Assistant Executive Secretary David J. Padilla; and specialists Ignacio J. Alvarez, in charge of Paraguay for the IACHR Executive Secretariat, and Christina M. Cerna.  Santiago Canton, IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, participated in the visit in that capacity.  Mrs. Ana Cecilia Adriazola and Ms. Tania Hernández provided administrative support during the visit.


          7.          While in Paraguay, the IACHR met with authorities from the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches, and also with different sectors of civil society, such as human rights organizations, Church representatives, groups from peasant and indigenous communities, trade union leaders, alleged victims of human rights violations, and others.  The Commission also visited several prisons and went to various regions of the country.


          8.          The Commission met with the highest-level authorities of the different branches of government, i.e. with the President of Paraguay, Luis Angel González Macchi; the President of the National Congress, Juan Carlos Galaverna; and the President of the Supreme Court of Paraguay, Waldo Rienzi Galeano.


          9.          In terms of the Executive branch, the Commission also interviewed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Abdon Saguier; Minister of Justice Silvio Ferreira; Defense Minister Nelson Argaña Contreras; Minister of Interior Walter Bower Montalto; Minister of Public Health and Social Welfare Martín Antonio Chiola; Attorney General Aníbal de la Cruz Cabrera Veron; Minister of the Secretariat for Women’s Affairs Cristina Muñoz; President of the Rural Welfare Institute (IBR) Enrique José García de Zúñiga Caballero; President of the National Indigenous Institute (INDI) Mr. Oscar Optaciano Villamayor Sánchez; Governor of the department of Concepción Modesto Guggiari Zavala; Governor of the department of San Pedro, Mr. César Ramón Alvarengañ and the Governor of the department of Itapúa, Mr. Lucio Vergara Ríos.


          10.          At the Congress, the Commission met with Senator Carlos Galaverna, President of the Senate; Senator Luis Alberto Mauro, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights; Senator José Félix Fernández Estigarribia, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Deputy Efraín Alegre, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies; Deputy Sonia de León, Chairwoman of the Committee on Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies; and Deputy Luis Alberto Mendoza, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Chamber of Deputies.  That meeting was also attended by other honorable Senators and Deputies of the National Congress.


          11.          In the Judiciary, the Commission met with the following members of the Supreme Court of Justice: Raúl Sapena Brugada, Enrique Sosa, Felipe Santiago Paredes, Carlos Fernández Gadea, Jerónimo Irala Burgos, Luis Lezcano Claude, Elixeno Ayala, and Bonifacio Rios. The IACHR also met with Judge Jorge Bogarín.  At the headquarters of the Judiciary, the Commission visited the Center for Documentation and Archive for the Defense of Human Rights of the Supreme Court of Justice, which compiles documents linked to the repression during the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, also known as the “Terror File.”


          12.          The Commission met with representatives of several non-governmental human rights organizations, such as the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (National Human Rights Coordinating Office), the American Association of Jurists (AAJ), the Association of Relatives of Military Service Victims (AFAVISEM), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the National Human Rights Commission, the Paraguayan Women’s Coordinating Office (CMP), the Indigenist Network, DECIDAMOS Campaign for Civic Expression, Children’s Defense International (DNI), the Foundation for State Reform (FUNPARE), the Institute for Comparative Studies in Penal and Social Sciences (INECIP), the Conscientious Objection Movement (MOC), the National Social Ministries/Services for Women’s Training and Studies (SEFEM), the Paraguay Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ PY), the Union of Journalists of Paraguay (SPP), Tierraviva, the Committee of Churches for Emergency Assistance (CIPAE), and the International Human Rights Law Group.


          13.          In addition, the Commission met with representatives of Church groups and other civil society organizations, such as Monsignor Pastor Cuquejo, of the Paraguayan Bishops Conference; Professor Luis A. Resck; other peasant groups, such as the Federación Nacional Campesina, ONAC, Red Rural, and Tekokatu; workers’ organizations, such as the CNT, CUT, and CESITEP; with the group “Ahorristas Estafados en Acción” (“Swindled Savers in Action”), with the "Coordinating Body of Political Prisoners and the Politically Persecuted of Paraguay,” and with alleged victims of human rights violations.  Santiago Canton, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, held meetings with the directors of the daily newspapers ABC Color, El Día, La Nación, Noticias, and Ultima Hora.  He also met with representatives of the broadcast media.


          14.          The Commission held follow-up meetings on cases before it in which friendly settlement was being pursued. Those meetings were held with representatives of the Paraguayan Government and with representatives of the organizations Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Comité de Iglesias para Ayudas de Emergencia (CIPAE), SERPAJ, TEKOJOJA, and International Human Rights Law Group, who represent the alleged victims and or their family members, some of whom were also present at those meetings.


          15.          In the course of the visit, the IACHR developed its work program in Asunción, Encarnación, San Pedro, and Concepción.


          16.          In Asunción, the Commission held meetings with the authorities, individuals, and institutions already mentioned, and also visited the Tacumbú prison (for men), the Buen Pastor prison (for women), and the “Panchito López” correctional facility for minors.  At each of these institutions, the Commission toured the facility and met with the authorities of these prisons and with inmates.


          17.          The IACHR also went to Encarnación, where it visited the prison and met with local authorities and civil society representatives.  During the visit to the prison at Encarnación, the Commission toured the facility and met with the authorities and with inmates.  The meetings with local authorities included one with the Governor of the department of Itapúa, Lucio Vergara Ríos, while the meetings with civil society representatives included one at the office of the Bishop with representatives of local non-governmental organizations such as the Coordinating Body of the Victims of Yacyretá, the Commission for the Defense of Social Rights, and the striking workers at Radio Encarnación.


          18.          The IACHR also went to San Pedro and Concepción, where meetings were held with local authorities and civil society representatives.  The Commission was also in the Paraguayan Chaco, where it visited the indigenous communities of Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa.  As regards the meetings with local authorities, the IACHR met with the Governor of San Pedro, Mr. César Ramón Alvarenga.  The Commission met also with representatives of the peasant communities of Antebi Cué, Curuzu de Hierro, and other representatives of local civil society, as well as Church representatives and groups.


          19.          As is customary in such visits, the IACHR received complaints from persons who alleged, directly or through their representatives, that they had been victims of human rights violations, and meetings were held with those who wished to provide additional information on complaints already before the Commission.


          20.          The IACHR was entirely free to meet with whoever it wanted to meet with, and to travel to any part of Paraguayan territory as it deemed advisable.  The Government of Paraguay extended the fullest assistance and cooperation to the Commission to facilitate its mission.


          21.          The Commission reiterates its gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Paraguay, in the person of its President, Luis Angel González Macchi; to the Ministry of Foreign Relations; to the Permanent Mission of Paraguay before the OAS; and to all other state authorities for the invitation extended to the Commission and for all the facilities provided for its visit; to the non-governmental organizations, and especially the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay, who provided invaluable support to the Commission organizing the agenda with the non-official sector; to the Office of the General Secretariat of the OAS in Paraguay, which also helped organize several aspects of the visit; to those private persons who, in a frank and transparent manner, contributed with their valuable testimony and documentation to the efficient realization of its mission during the visit; and to all those individuals and institutions who, along with those mentioned above, offered their hospitality, facilities, and cooperation to the IACHR to make the visit a success.  The Commission also wishes to reiterate its gratitude for the interest displayed by the journalists and communications media for their coverage of the visit and for their interest in the issues addressed.


          22.          On concluding its on-site visit, the Commission issued a press release in Asunción in which it set forth some preliminary observations regarding its observation of the country’s general human rights situation.[5]


          23.          In this report on the general human rights situation in Paraguay, which is based on the information and documentation collected and examined pursuant to the Commission’s usual procedures, and on the opinions and abundant information collected before, during, and after the on-site visit, the Commission engages in a more detailed and complete study of the situation.


          24.          This report was forwarded to the State by the Executive Secretary of the Commission on December 19, 2000, for the State to make any observations it deemed pertinent within two months.  On February 23, 2001, the Commission extended that term for another two weeks.  On February 23, 2001, the Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the OAS submitted preliminary comments and observations, and that same day a brief was received containing observations sent by the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Paraguay.  The Commission, in keeping with Article 62 of its Regulations, studied those observations and included them, where relevant, in this final version.  The Commission approved the final version of its report on March 9, 2001.


          25.          The Commission hopes that the Government of Paraguay and the country’s other political actors, including the members of the Legislative and Judicial branches, display the political will necessary to continue advancing in respect of those human rights issues on which Paraguay has made progress, and to seek solutions to the serious human rights problems that continue to affect the population of Paraguay. Several such problems are identified in this report, which also contains recommendations aimed at solving them. The Inter-American Commission considers it essential that the opinion of the non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society be very much taken into account in studying possible solutions to the problems.  The Inter-American Commission offers its collaboration to the Paraguayan State for the activities of promotion, protection, and consultation necessary to make progress towards solving the human rights problems.

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[1] See Article 44 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure.  All the references are to the Commission's Rules of Procedure in force at the time of adoption of the present Report.

[2] See Articles 55 ff. of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure

[3] In this respect, see IACHR, Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay 1978, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.43, Doc. 13 corr. 1, January 31, 1978, and Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Paraguay 1987, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.71, Doc. 19 rev. 1, September 28, 1987.  In addition, see the Annual Reports of the IACHR, 1979-1980 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.50, doc. 13 rev. 1, October 2, 1980; 1981-1982 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.57, doc. 6 rev. 1, September 20, 1982, Chapter V; 1983-1984 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.63, doc. 10, September 28, 1984, Chapter IV; 1984-1985 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.66, doc. 10 rev. 1, October 1, 1985, Chapter IV; 1985-1986 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II., doc. 8 rev. 1, September 26, 1986, Chapter IV; 1987-1988 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.74, doc. 10 rev. 1, September 16, 1988, Chapter IV; 1988-1989 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.76, doc. 10, September 18, 1989, Chapter IV; 1989-1990 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.77, doc. 7, rev. 1, May 17, 1990; 1998 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.102, doc. 6, April 16, 1999, Chapter IV; 1999 Annual Report, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.106, doc. 3, April 13, 2000, Chapter II, C, para. 47/60.

[4] Republic of Paraguay, Basic Document that is an integral part of the Reports by the States Parties, Document prepared by the Paraguayan State and submitted to the United Nations, doc. HRI/CORE/1/Add.24, May 11, 1993.

[5] IACHR, Press Release No. 23/99, July 30, 1999.  That press release is published in the 1999 Annual Report of the IACHR, and may be seen at the Inter-American Commission’s web page, <>.