In October the Supreme Court of Justice quashed the 10-year prison sentence of army commander and then presidential candidate General Lino Oviedo. He had been sentenced in 1998 for an attempted coup in 1996 against the then President Juan Carlos Wasmosy. The ruling restored Lino Oviedo’s rights to vote and to stand for public office.
Discrimination – Indigenous rights
Throughout the year Indigenous communities, including the Enxet, Mbyá, Aché and Tobas communities, protested outside government offices in the capital, Asunción. They called for free access to land, guaranteed to Indigenous communities in law. They were also protesting at the lack of educational programmes and extreme poverty in their communities.
Among the concerns expressed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in November were the increasing numbers of forced evictions of peasant families and Indigenous communities. It established that “nearly 45 per cent of Indigenous communities have no legal titles to their ancestral lands”. It recommended, among other things, that steps be taken by the state to reduce the level of poverty and to increase efforts to demarcate Indigenous land and ancestral territories.
Arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment
Peasant leaders complained before the Congressional Permanent Commission that police and armed civilian patrols operating in the Department of Itapúa were responsible for arbitrary detention and ill-treatment.
- In April, members of the police and armed civilians entered the community of Paraguái Pyahu, in San Pedro Department, and beat and arrested five peasants. They were allegedly charged with environmental crimes and the illegal cultivation of marijuana. The following day, three detainees were released by the local prosecutor who apologized for the incident; one was subsequently released and one remained in detention at the end of the year.
In November the Chamber of Senators rejected a bill on maternal, sexual and reproductive health. This bill aimed to promote government policies to reduce maternal mortality and provide better health care to women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Freedom of expression – journalists
The Executive Committee of the Paraguayan Union of Journalists protested against a wave of repression and harassment against journalists and accused the authorities of attempting to intimidate and silence critics.
- In June, Vladimir Jara and Victor Benitez, journalists for Radio Chaco Boreal, reported receiving death threats and having their phones illegally tapped after reporting on alleged corruption within Paraguay’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat. The journalists asked the district attorney to investigate the incidents. It was not known if any such investigation had been initiated by the end of the year.
- In August 2007, Maria Bartola Fernández, coordinator of Radio Tekoporã, in Puerto Presidente Franco, Alto Paraná Department, reported receiving death threats from members of the regional government which she believed were linked to her criticism of the authorities for failing to provide basic services. An investigation was initiated after she made a statement before the National Congress and the Human Rights Department of the Senate.