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Paraguay
28.08.01
Urgent Interventions

Paraguay: inhuman conditions of child detainees

CHILD CONCERN
Case PRY 070300.2.CC
Follow-up of Case PRY 070300.CC and PRY 070300.1.CC

Geneva, 3 September 2001

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

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source that child prisoners in Paraguay continue to be ill-treated and that their conditions of detention are cruel and inhuman.

Following the events of 25 July 2001 in the Panchito Lopez detention centre for children (see urgent appeal PRY 070300.1.CC) a commission formed of representatives of the Paraguayan legal authorities, UNICEF, Defence of Children International - Paraguay Section and other human rights organisations made a series of visits to prisons to check on the conditions of detention of children in the country.

According to Defence of Children International - Paraguay Section, the results of these visits were terrifying: many child prisoners are detained in prisons for adults where there is extreme overcrowding, constant ill-treatment and daily isolation. According to information received, the situation is particularly alarming in Emboscada prison to which a large number of children evacuated from Panchito Lopez were transferred.

Thanks to national and international pressure concerning this situation, Mr González Vera, the director of Emboscada prison, was stripped of his functions and Mr Marciano Rodríguez Báez, director of penitentiary establishments, was forced to resign.

According to information received, the Deputy Minister of Justice of Paraguay has given a commitment that the children concerned will be transferred to the Itaguá educational centre, which conforms to international standards.

OMCT is deeply concerned by the situation of the children in question and draws attention to the fact that, as a State party to the Convention on the rights of the child (the Convention), Paraguay is obliged to respect its clauses, in particular, article 37 which states that “no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. Furthermore, this article stipulates 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 stresses that according to the United Nations rules for the protection of children deprived of their freedom, the detention of children in isolation as a disciplinary measure constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment and must therefore be prohibited.

Brief reminder of the situation

The Panchito Lopez detention centre for children was totally destroyed by a fire that broke out at about 6 p.m. on 25 July 2001. The incident was started by a guard who fired from the roof of the establishment at an 18 year old prisoner, Benito Augusto Adorno, who was in the interior courtyard. As a result of this incident, the prisoners set fire to their mattresses and the flames rapidly spread to the rest of the establishment.

According to information received, child prisoners were regularly tortured or subjected to other forms of ill-treatment, and were already living in conditions of extreme over-crowding.

Action requested

The International Secretariat of OMCT thanks all those - institutions, organisations and individuals - who intervened in favour of child prisoners and requests them kindly to continue to intervene with the authorities in Paraguay, requesting them :

1. to immediately put a stop to all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in compliance with national and international legislation;

2. to separate children from adult prisoners, unless it is in the best interest of a child not to do so;

3. to provide assurances that an immediate inquiry will take place on the allegations of illegal disciplinary methods and physical abuse of children, to identify those responsible and bring them before a competent and impartial civil court and to apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions foreseen by the law;

4. to ensure that the conditions of detention of children are compatible with international standards in this respect, in particular the Convention on the rights of the child and the rules of the United Nations for the protection of children deprived of their freedom;

5. to guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all children all over the country, in accordance with national laws and international standards, and in particular with the Convention on the rights of the child and the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.

Addresses

· 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 diplomatic representatives of Paraguay in your country.

Geneva, 3 September 2001

Kindly inform us of any action you may take, citing the code of this appeal in your reply.
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