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Paraguay
24.05.02
Urgent Interventions

Paraguay: torture of street children

CHILD CONCERN
Case PRY 240502. CC
Torture

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

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has just been informed by a reliable source that in Asunción the police authorities are continuing to resort to illegal physical and psychological brutality on adolescents, particularly against “street children” or children and adolescents who are in detention.

According to the information received, the street children have become victims of numerous acts of torture and of other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. They are detained - accused of supposedly having committed some crime (generally they are accused of robbery),- in various police stations, in particular by members of the police of Central San Lorenzo, where the children are initially detained before being transferred to prison in Asunción.

According to the information source, complaints have been filed by the child victims of these abuses. Their names have been omitted for their safety. The acts of torture in question have been corroborated by medical examinations.

The information received by the International Secretariat of OMCT mentions, among the acts of torture that the street children have been subjected, the following: placing plastic bags over the head, being tied to a chair, blows and kicks to the body, especially to the testicles; placing pins under the fingernails; blows from truncheons over the entire body, particularly on the head and back; electric shocks and severe blows on the back. According to one of the testimonials, “In the police station they handcuffed me on the patio,…all the police that passed by hit me with the wooden truncheon on the back and the buttocks …. They hit me in the stomach and I vomited blood.”

According to the information received, torture is reportedly widely used by the authorities during interrogations under torture are the quickest technique that authorities use in order to obtain confessions by alleged criminals. The source of the information notes that “The minors that pass through some police stations, which are sadly famous for the violence practiced there, like in Central San Lorenzo, the 3a of Luque and of Limpio, arrive afterwards at the prisons urinating blood, with bruises on different parts of the body and even with severe lesions on the vertebral column.” Furthermore, some children are detained together with adults and have reported events of sexual abuse by detained adults with one of them, acts that are reportedly allow to occur by the police, who considered that to be a “show.”

According to the information received, all of these abuses take place in the Police stations basically because many police consider that marginal people, among them the street children, are “trash” and do not benefit from basic human rights. According to the same information, the children are obliged to state where they hid what they allegedly stole and the police offer them freedom in exchange for home appliances, cash and other goods. The police are reportedly as not keeping records concerning incidents with these children, in order to continue being able to profit from them in this way.

The international secretariat of OMCT is seriously concerned for the safety and security of the children mentioned here, and, more generally, for all the street children that are brought to the Police stations, and wishes to recall that Paraguay, as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to respect all the articles; in particular Article 37 of the Convention that declares that “States Parties shall ensure that: a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Furthermore, this article demands that “c) 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.” Moreover, this article asserts that “c) (…), every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults, unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so (…)”.

Actions Requested

Please write to the authorities of Paraguay urging them to:

i. immediately put to an end all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in particular of the street children or of those that are taken to the police stations, in conformity with national and international legislation;
ii. guarantee an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into the charges regarding the alleged utilization of disciplinary methods that include physical abuses of children, with the goal of identifying those responsible, bringing them before a competent and impartial civil court and applying the civil and/or administrative penal sanctions to them, as provided by law;
iii. guarantee to each one of the maltreated children the right to adequate reparation and social reintegration;
iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental liberties of all children throughout the country, in accordance with national and international law, and particularly with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and with the Convention Against Torture, ratified by Paraguay.

Addresses:

· Don Luis Angel González Macchi, Presidente de la República del Paraguay, Palacio de López - El Paraguayo Independiente y Ayolas, Asunción - Paraguay Tel.: (+595 21) 441 889; Fax: (+595 21) 493 622 Email: dmarin@presidencia.gov.py
· Don Julio Cesar Franco Gómez - Vicepresidente de la República del Paraguay, Edificio "Vicepresidencia " - General Díaz esquina Alberdi Asunción – Paraguay - Teléfonos: (+595 21) 450 009 / 440 690 - Fax: (+595 21) 440 693. E-mail: ldvalos@hotmail.com
· Don Jaime Bestard - Jefe del Gabinete Civil y Secretario General de la Presidencia de la República - Palacio de López - El Paraguayo Independiente y Ayolas Asunción - Paraguay - Tel: (+595 21) 448 719. E-mail: caranda@presidencia.gov.py E-mail: agomez@presidencia.gov.py
· Don Diego Abente, Ministro de Justicia y Trabajo, Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia esq. EEUU - Asunción – Paraguay, Telefax: (+595 21) 208 469. E-mail: mtro@conexion.com.py
· Don José Antonio Moreno Rufinelli, Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, O´Leary esq. Pte. Franco - Asunción – Paraguay Telefax: (+595 21) 494 593 / 493 872 / Fax: (+595 21) 493 910. E-mail: jmoreno@mre.gov.py
· Don Francisco Oviedo, Ministro del Interior, Chile y Manduvirá - Asunción – Paraguay, Tel: (+595 21) 493 661 / 446 433 / 446 743 / Fax: (+595 21) 446 448. E-mail: oviedobritez@hotmail.com
· Don Oscar Germán Latorre Cañete, Fiscal General del Estado, Telefax: (+595 21) 450 001 E-mail: fiscgral@infonet.com.py

Please write to the diplomatic representatives of Paraguay in their respective countries.

Geneva, 24 May 2002

Kindly inform us of any action taken regarding the present case, citing the case number of this appeal in your response.
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