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Paraguay
02.08.01
Urgent Interventions

Paraguay: child detainees are still being subjected to torture and are living in cruel and inhuman detention conditions.

CHILD CONCERN
Case PAR 070300.1.EE
Follow-up case 070300.EE


Geneva, August 2nd, 2001

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Paraguay:

New information

The International Secretariat has been informed by a reliable source that child detainees are still being subjected to torture and are living in cruel and inhuman detention conditions in Paraguay.

According to the information received, on July 25th 2001, at around 6pm, the Panchito Lopez Detention Centre for Minors in Asuncion was destroyed as the result of a fire. The incident began with the shooting of an eighteen year-old detainee, Benito Augusto Adorno, who was in the courtyard, by a guard positioned on the roof of the building. The other detainees then decided to set their mattresses on fire in protest, with the flames rapidly spreading throughout the whole building.

According to the information received, one detainee was wounded, eight detainees were intoxicated by smoke - Eduardo Vera, Ulises Zelaya, Hugo Olmedo, Rafael Acuña, Carlos Raúl Romero, Nelson Rodriguez, Demetrio Siguero and Aristides Ramon Ortiz - and one suffered a broken leg - Clementino Luis – during the fire.

These events are the result of a generally tense and violent atmosphere in the Panchito Lopez detention centre. On July 8th 2001, the guards reportedly used their firearms to stop a fight between two detainees, resulting in one of them, Aristides Ramon Ortiz, being shot in the left leg.

According to the information received, the children have been subject to various forms of torture during their detention, including: being hung up by their hands or by their feet with their head facing the ground, being beaten on the palms of their hands or on the soles of their feet or other sensitive parts of the body, and regular cases of the use of solitary confinement.

Furthermore, the detention centre is reported as being heavily overcrowded, with 265 detainees thought to be incarcerated there in July 2001, in facilities designed to contain 80 detainees. Reports indicate that, at times, 35 detainees were detained a room as small as 24 m2. In addition, the children were only allowed walk in the courtyard for two hours a day.

According to the information received, the children who were in the Panchito Lopez detention centre are to be transferred to several detention centres for adults throughout the country. A hundred of them are likely to be transferred to the Emboscada detention centre for adults, where the conditions of detention are known to very poor.

OMCT is gravely concerned for the situation of the afore-mentioned children and recalls that, as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Paraguay has to abide by the articles of the Convention. More specifically, article 37 states that “no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” and that “every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s interest not to do so…”

OMCT recalls that, according to the rules of United Nations for the protection of minors that are deprived of freedom, the use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment constitutes cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, and is therefore prohibited.

Brief reminder of the situation

In March 2001, the International Secretariat of OMCT was informed of acts of torture and other ill-treatment perpetrated on four children detained in the of Panchito Lopez detention centre and in the Emboscada detention centre for adults. This information also included reports of the use of hangings, beatings and solitary confinement.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Paraguay urging them to:

1. put an immediate end to all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in accordance with national and international legislation;
2. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all children being held in Paraguay;
3. place the children in separate sections from criminal and adult prisoners, except when it is in the best interests of the child to detain them together;
4. guarantee an immediate investigation into the alleged use of illegal interrogation methods and physical abuse on the children, identify those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;
5. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all children throughout the country in accordance with national and international human rights standards, in particular the CRC.

Adresses

· Don Luis Angel González Macchi, Presidente de la República del Paraguay, Palacio de López-El Paraguayo Independiente y Ayolas, Telefax: (0541)(021)441889, Email: webmaster@presidencia.gob.py
· Don Julio César Ramón Franco Gómez, Vice-Presidente de la República del Paraguay, Edificio ¨Vicepresidencia¨-General Díaz esq. Alberdi, Telefax: (0541)(021)450001/5
· Don Silvio Ferreira Fernández, Ministro de Justicia y Trabajo, Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia esq. EEUU, Telefax: (0541)(021)208469
· Don Fernando Canillas Vera, Vice-Ministro de Justicia, Herrera y Paraguarí, Telefax: (0541)(021)498339
· Don Juan Antonio Moreno Rufinelli, Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, O´Leary esq. Pte.Franco, Telefax:(0541)(021)493910

Please also write to the embassies of Paraguay in your respective country.

Geneva, August 2nd, 2001

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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