Paraguay: Implement measures to protect human rights defenders

(Geneva) - States should call on Paraguay to adopt necessary measures to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders, especially those working in defence of indigenous communities from land grabbing, says ISHR in a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders in Paraguay published today. 

Paraguay is scheduled to be reviewed at the 24th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January 2016.

Human rights defenders in Paraguay face repression on at least two fronts, being targeted by the Government for legitimate dissent, as well as by non-state actors for seeking to expose alleged atrocities.

‘Human rights defenders, in particular those working against land confiscations and journalists criticising the Government and exposing drug trafficking, continue to face threats, harassment and even killing. The recently elected Government in Paraguay must immediately take action to protect the legitimate work of human rights defenders,’ said Ben Leather of ISHR.

The Government continues to criminalise the legitimate work of human rights defenders – including through charges of defamation, which is a criminal offense punishable by prison terms of up to three years and fines.

In its last UPR Paraguay received one recommendation which called for a participatory and inclusive process with civil society organisations in the implementation of UPR recommendations. However Paraguay has only partially implemented this recommendation. According to civil society, some meetings where held with civil society organisations, but no resources were provided to indigenous communities to enable their effective participation, nor has their inclusion been guaranteed.

ISHR urges States to make strong UPR recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders and safeguarding civil society space in Paraguay, including to:  

  • Combat impunity by ensuring prompt, thorough and transparent investigation of all violations against, and killing of, human rights defenders; the prosecution of perpetrators; and access to effective remedies for victims.
  • Immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and safety of journalists and human rights defenders, particularly those working for the defence of indigenous communities from land grabbing.
  • In consultation with civil society, develop and implement a specific national law on human rights defenders and establish, mandate and resource a mechanism for their protection from both State and non-State actors in line with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
  • Acknowledge the legitimate role of human rights defenders, and create and sustain an enabling environment for human rights defenders and journalists to carry out with their vital work without threat of violence or reprisals.
  • Refrain from criminalising the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and repeal or amend all laws and policies which restrict their activities and rights, including laws criminalising defamation.

For further information about the Briefing Paper, please contact ISHR's Ben Leather, on [email protected].

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