EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 45/01/95
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UA 229/95 Death Threats 29 September 1995
PARAGUAYAlberto Alderete, lawyer
Lawyer Alberto Alderete has received a series of anonymous telephoned death
threats in his home in the capital Asunción, apparently as a result of his
representation of peasant farmers (campesinos) killed and injured in a clash
with police. Amnesty International fears for his safety.
The threats follow Alberto Alderete's presentation in mid-September of a formal
criminal complaint to the courts against the Minister of Interior, the Commander
of the National Police and other police officials. The complaint accuses the
Paraguayan authorities of responsibility for the death of campesino farmer
Pedro Giménez and the injuries suffered by 17 other campesinos when members
of the Rural and Ecological police (Policía Ecológica y Rural) violently broke
up a demonstration of over 1,000 campesinos in the locality of Santa Rosa de
Aguaray, San Pedro department on 7 September 1995. According to eye-witnesses,
police agents launched tear gas and then opened fire on the demonstrators.
Three police were reportedly injured in the incident when demonstrators threw
stones and other projectiles. The demonstration had been organized to support
over 600 landless campesino families who had occupied a property in Santa
Bárbara, San Pedro department, on 31 August.
Although the government of President Wasmosy has committed itself to respecting
human rights, serious abuses continue to be reported, particularly in the
context of land conflicts. Incidents of serious confrontations between
specialist police units and landless peasant families, who have occupied large
landholdings, have increased in recent months. Peasant communities attempting
to establish land claims have been violently expelled by police personnel,
sometimes operating in conjunction with armed civilians reportedly paid by
landowners. In many cases forcible expulsion has been accompanied by mass
arrests, sometimes without judicial order. Detainees have frequently been
ill-treated. The majority of detainees were released without charge or trial
after weeks or months in custody. Lawyers and other working to promote and
defend the rights of peasant communities have, in some instances, been subject
to threats and attacks.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern at the death threats against lawyer Alberto Alderete;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the threats, the results
of which should be made public and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging that, in line with the Paraguayan government's commitment to respect
human rights, all possible measures be taken to protect Alberto Alderete and
his family and to ensure that he is able to carry out his lawful professional
activities without fear of reprisal;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the death of Pedro Giménez
and serious injuries sustained by many other people when members of the Rural
and Ecological police violently broke up a demonstration of landless campesinos
in Santa Rosa de Aguaray, San Pedro department, on 7 September 1995.