Paraguay

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Paraguay 2022

Authorities continued to criminalize social protest. Investigations into cases of torture and other ill-treatment did not make progress. Forced evictions remained a serious problem, affecting the rights of thousands of small-scale farmers and Indigenous families. Authorities failed to take action to protect LGBTI people and human rights defenders. Sexual abuse of children and girls’ forced pregnancies remained serious concerns.

Background

There were allegations of mismanagement in the Attorney General’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office, resulting in the resignation of the ombudsman.

Freedom of assembly and expression

Restrictions on freedom of expression persisted. In December, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a judgment in the case of Santiago Leguizamón, a journalist killed in 1991. The Court found Paraguay responsible for violating the right to freedom of expression, among other rights, and ordered the state to provide reparation.

Several students, including activist Vivian Genes, continued to face charges of arson in connection with a fire at the ruling party’s headquarters in 2021. The fire occurred in the context of social protests over the mismanagement of resources to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Judicial authorities decided to proceed to an oral and public trial in the case.

In April, after years of criminal proceedings, Aurora Lezcano, a student criminalized for participating in a social protest at her university in 2017, was acquitted.

Journalist Juan Carlos Lezcano was acquitted of charges of defamation in the second of five cases brought against him for reporting on irregularities in public administration. In November, he as well as the director of the print media outlet for which he worked were convicted of defamation in the third of these cases and fined.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Impunity for torture and other ill-treatment persisted.

In April, the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture confirmed that senior cadets at the military academy “Francisco Solano López” had inflicted torture and other ill-treatment on junior personnel. It also stated that human rights violations persisted in penitentiary facilities.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office failed to make progress regarding the complaints relating to 35 survivors of torture and ill-treatment at the naval base of Ciudad del Este in 2020.

Impunity

Ten years after the Curuguaty massacre – an operation in which police forcibly evicted 70 members of a small-scale farming community, including women and children, and which resulted in the deaths of 11 farmers and six policemen – the authorities had yet to establish responsibility for the violations that took place or ensure justice, truth and reparation for victims and their families.

Economic, social and cultural rights

Authorities made insufficient progress in realizing economic, social and cultural rights, affecting the most marginalized communities above all.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing on agrarian policies that have led to a growing number of forced evictions. These evictions have resulted in arbitrary detentions and killings and left thousands of small-scale farmers and Indigenous families without livelihoods.

Legislators passed a new law creating a commission to study the recovery of improperly obtained lands during the military dictatorship.

Despite the deficiencies of the health system exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the state had still not taken concrete steps to establish, through participatory processes, a universal public health system that guaranteed minimum basic needs and primary healthcare for the population.

Failure to tackle climate crisis and environmental degradation

Paraguay remained one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in South America. However, authorities continued to allow the expansion of monocultures, possibly undermining native ecosystems. Marginalized communities were those most affected by this and other aspects of environmental degradation, such as deforestation and the use of agrochemicals and fertilizers.

Indigenous peoples’ rights

Authorities continued to disregard the rights of Indigenous peoples.

The Tekoha Sauce community of the Avá Guaraní were still waiting for the return of lands seized decades earlier by Itaipú Binacional. During the year, the company pursued an ongoing lawsuit in an attempt to evict members of the community from another part of their ancestral land where they were living.

In June, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights noted that Paraguay continued to violate the rights of the Yakye Axa Indigenous community of the Enxet people and announced stronger monitoring measures to guarantee the community’s access to its own territory, as well as the Court’s intention to visit the country in the coming months.

LGBTI people’s rights

Authorities continued to neglect the rights of LGBTI people.

No progress was reported in criminal cases concerning attacks on LGBTI people during a 2019 Pride march in the city of Hernandarias. The Hernandarias municipality had banned the march in part as “contrary to public morals”. A lawsuit against the municipality’s decision filed by Amnesty International in October 2019 remained stalled.

Paraguay was denounced before the UN Human Rights Committee for violating the rights of Yren Rotela and Mariana Sepúlveda, two trans women who have been demanding the right to legally change their names in accordance with their gender identity since 2016. In December, the Supreme Court of Justice removed legal obstacles to the case of Mariana Sepúlveda proceeding and being heard by the relevant courts.

Human rights defenders

Despite numerous recommendations from UN treaty bodies and special procedures, authorities failed to establish a specific protection mechanism for human rights defenders. 

Children’s rights

The Ministry of Children and Adolescents announced the content of the National Programme to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents and Provide Comprehensive Care was being developed and, from August, provided updates on its progress.

The Public Prosecutor’s office documented 1,452 cases of ill-treatment and 3,804 cases of sexual abuse of children during 2022.

As of November, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare had recorded 10,332 births to adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, of whom 570 were Indigenous adolescents, and 420 cases of births to girls aged between 10 and 14, of whom 84 were Indigenous girls.

Women’s rights

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs recorded 36 cases of femicide during the year.

An appeals court declared that the statute of limitations had expired in the case of a priest convicted in 2021 of sexually harassing Alexa Torres and dismissed the case. Alexa appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, which at the end of the year had not yet ruled on the case.

In November, the press published a leaked internal Ministry of Foreign Affairs circular calling on all Paraguayan diplomats to avoid using language that refers to “gender issues”, as well as terms such as “diversity”, “intersectionality” and “sexual and reproductive rights”. The Education Ministry publicly called on all teachers and school directors to continue to abide by a 2017 resolution banning educational materials on gender issues and calling on all teachers to file official complaints if such material is found.