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Paraguay

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Last updated on 06.07.2018 at 10:55

Paraguay Overview

One of the poorest countries in South America, Paraguay was also among the last to transition to democracy.

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Thousands of workers protest government pension fund proposal

Thousands of workers protest government pension fund proposal

Thousands of workers took to the streets in Paraguay to protest a government proposal regarding their pension funds.

Peaceful Assembly

On 7th June 2018, thousands of workers from different unions marched to protest a government proposal to create a regulatory body that will control and supervise pension funds in Paraguay. Workers argue that they need clear procedures to ensure the funds will "return to the pension reserve after being used" because in the past, the use of funds for investment led to " bankruptcy and lost of the funds". 

The workers gathered in the main square "Plaza Uruguaya" and marched towards the Parliament building. Despite the heavy police present surrounding the building, no incidents of police use of excessive force were reported. 

Expression

In April, civil society organisation TEDIC issued a report analysing online freedom of expression in Paraguay. The report, which also describes restrictions on this freedom, identified a number of challenges including a proposed bill that mandates social media service providers to suspend and delete publications deemed "offensive or of defamatory character". In addition, regarding access to the internet, official data from CONATEL showed that three million people are connected in Paraguay. However, this increase in the numbers connected is undermined through expensive data plans, slow connection speeds and "zero rating" offers which violate net neutrality. 

Association in Paraguay

The Constitution of Paraguay guarantees the freedom of association and no legal restrictions or bans on external funding are in place.

The Constitution of Paraguay guarantees the freedom of association and no legal restrictions or bans on external funding are in place. Although land claims of some indigenous communities have been legally resolved, police raids, harassment by paramilitary forces and illegal evictions continue against others, while numerous peasant farmers are forced to sell their land. Judicial proceedings against peasant farmers are common and human rights defenders face repression, in particular those working for the defence of indigenous communities and against land confiscation. For example, human rights defender Lorenzo Areco, who was killed in 2013, was known for his work assisting farmers with land claims. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, trade union rights are also subject to regular violations, such as reprisals for strikes and delay or denial of registration.

Peaceful Assembly in Paraguay

Although it is constitutionally guaranteed, the right to peaceful assembly is limited by laws imposing restrictions on the time and location in which demonstrations can take place.

Although it is constitutionally guaranteed, the right to peaceful assembly is limited by laws imposing restrictions on the time and location in which demonstrations can take place. The government continues to intimidate protestors, especially students demanding better education, and the police use excessive force against peasants and union workers. Repression has not curtailed the exercise of the right however. On 10 December 2014, International Human Rights Day, thousands – including teachers, public employees, farm workers and human rights advocates – marched in the capital Asunción to protest against homelessness, poverty, and unemployment, and to demand the president’s resignation. Recently, a union protest was met with excessive force by the police, leaving more than 20 people injured.

Expression in Paraguay

The constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression and the press are significantly compromised in practice as well as by law.

The constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression and the press are significantly compromised in practice as well as by law. Defamation is a criminal offence punishable with fines and prison sentences, and cases against journalists are regularly filed. The media landscape is highly concentrated, with three privately-owned media corporations having the influence to set the national media discourse. Although reporters are relatively safe in the capital city, they face significant danger in remote border areas, where local politicians operate in collusion with drug traffickers. At least three journalists were killed in Paraguay in 2014, and a total of 17 have been killed since 1991. Impunity and fear of reprisals have resulted in widespread self-censorship among reporters covering sensitive areas. Progress has also been registered as Paraguay, already an Open Government Partnership (OGP) member, passed a transparency and access to information law in September 2014 that came into force a year later. A positive development is the Senate decision to reject the approval of the so-called Pyrawebs bill that would have established mandatory data retention, which would have had a negative impact on the right to privacy and expression.