Head of state and government
Fernando Lugo Méndez
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
6.6 million
Life expectancy
72.5 years
Under-5 mortality
22.6 per 1,000
Adult literacy
94.6 per cent

Progress was made in resolving the land claims of the Sawhoyamaxa and Kelyenmagategma, but other Indigenous Peoples continued to be denied their right to their traditional lands. The authorities attempted to undermine and misrepresent the work of human rights defenders.


A 60-day state of exception was declared in October in the northern departments of Concepción and San Pedro following two attacks attributed to the Paraguayan People’s Army (Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo, EPP), an armed opposition group.

In February, Paraguay’s human rights record was assessed under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. States expressed concerns regarding Indigenous Peoples’ rights, impunity, women’s rights and discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Following a visit in March, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief expressed concern about delays in passing anti-discrimination legislation; the lack of implementation of non-discrimination mechanisms, particularly in the Chaco region; and the weak presence and capacity of state institutions.

In May, a national mechanism for the prevention of torture was approved, as required under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

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Indigenous Peoples’ rights

Progress was made in resolving the land claims of some Indigenous communities, but other communities continued to be denied their right to their traditional lands.

  • In September, five years after a judgement by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in their favour, the Sawhoyamaxa signed an agreement with the government and the current landowners to begin the process of restoring the community’s traditional lands. Under the agreement, a government agency was due to buy a 14,404-hectare plot from two businesses based in Puerto Colón by the end of the year.
  • In August, the land claim of the Kelyenmagategma was formally recognized by the authorities and the land title on 8,700 hectares of land was officially transferred, allowing the community to recover part of their traditional territory. The community, who started the legal process to reclaim part of their land in 2000, had suffered threats and intimidation that the authorities failed to investigate.

There was no resolution to Yakye Axa or Xámok Kásek land claims and there were no significant advances in investigations into the alleged spraying of Indigenous communities in Itakyry with pesticides in 2009.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination assessed Paraguay’s record in August. It recommended that Paraguay adopt reforms to ensure that the justice system protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including effective mechanisms for lodging complaints and claims concerning land, for bringing about the restitution of traditional lands, and for fully recognizing Indigenous land rights in a co-ordinated and systematic manner.

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Human rights defenders

The authorities sought to undermine the work of human rights defenders.

  • In July, lawyers from the human rights co-ordinating body, Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY) lodged a legal writ requesting that the Attorney General substantiate claims he made to the press that its lawyers were in telephone contact with the EPP. The allegations were made in the context of Judge Gustavo Bonzi’s decision at the end of June to release 14 people accused by the authorities of providing support to the EPP in a kidnapping case, on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to provide evidence of their involvement. CODEHUPY lawyers representing six of the accused had complained of violations of due process guarantees in these cases. The Tribunal for the Prosecution of Magistrates called for Judge Bonzi to be suspended for exceeding his authority in releasing the 14 and, in August, the Concepción Appeals Court overturned his ruling. A challenge to the constitutionality of the Appeals Court decision was pending at the end of the year.
  • Four members of Iniciativa Amotocodie, an NGO working to protect the rights of uncontacted Ayoreo Indigenous groups living in the Paraguayan Chaco region, faced legal proceedings on charges including breach of trust. Investigations into the organization started after they publicly declared their opposition to a scientific expedition called “Dry Chaco 2010” on the grounds that it could harm the rights of uncontacted Indigenous Peoples and were continuing at the end of the year. The expedition was subsequently cancelled.
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In July, Norberto Atilio Bianco, an army doctor at the Campo de Mayo clandestine detention centre in Argentina in the 1970s, was extradited from Paraguay for a second time to face charges of appropriating babies born to women who had been victims of unlawful detention and enforced disappearance.

In September, the authorities reported that the remains found in a grave excavated in a police station in Asunción might be those of victims of human rights violations under the military government of General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989). The report of the Truth and Justice Commission published in August 2008 stated that at least 59 people had been executed and another 336 detainees were the victim of enforced disappearance during the period of military rule.

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Complaints of torture brought by at least four recruits at the Francisco Solano López Military Academy in Capiatá were under investigation in the military justice system.

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