Status: civil society or public discussion

In Paraguay, no law or policy exists for the protection of human rights defenders. However, a draft law is being discussed and  will be presented to the Senate by some Human rights Commission members (senators) this next April/May 2023. In the meantime, the situation of human rights defenders in Paraguay remains worrying.

On November 16 2016, a bill on “Freedom of expression, protection of journalists, press workers and human rights defenders” was presented to the Chamber of Deputies. In 2017, the Chamber of Deputies received the approval of the bill by the Chamber’s Human Rights Committee – among others – as well as a negative report from the Legislation and Codification Committee. After a pause in the process, the Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay (CODEHUPY) has taken up the project again and will be presenting the draft law in March 2023. Protection International has provided input to this draft law and will continue to contribute to the process.

Paraguay is monitored by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. The Special Rapporteur has not visited Paraguay as of yet, but has requested to visit the country. Paraguay is not mentioned in recent annual reports published by the Special Rapporteur. Several communications regarding Paraguay were published, however, including the most recent communication (2019) urging Paraguay to ratify the Escazú Agreement . Regionally, Paraguay falls within the mandate of the Inter-American Commission Rapporteurship on Human Rights Defenders. Unfortunately, no recent reports include information on Paraguay.

Paraguay is reviewed through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In the last report from 2021, the State mentions the development of a “protocol for the safety of journalists at high risk”, adopted in 2017 (par. 39). The State also mentions the Witness Protection Programme introduced in 2011, which includes assistance to journalists at risk (par. 41). Finally, the State lists that the “legislative analysis of the bill on freedom of expression and the protection of journalists, other press workers and human rights defenders is ongoing” (par. 43). In the report published by the working group, concerns are expressed regarding “corruption, intimidation of and threats against journalists and human rights defenders” (par. 38). Paraguay received 19 recommendations concerning human rights defenders, including one to enact a law on the protection of human rights defenders (118.82). All recommendations were supported, except those concerning the ratification of the Escazú agreement, which the State merely noted (par. 118.3, 118.4, 118.5). In the national report mentioned above, the State says that the ratification of this agreement is being “considered” (par. 42).

CIVICUS monitor has ranked Paraguay as “obstructed”, which means that “civic space is heavily contested by power holders, who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights.” Concerns include cases of killing, criminalization and eviction of human rights defenders. Freedom house has no data on civic space in Paraguay.

Updated on 22/02/23

Camara de Diputados de Paraguay
The Human Rights Commission, chaired by Congresswoman Roya Torres (PLRA-Alto Paraná), met with representatives of the Inter-institutional Roundtable for the...
Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas
This analysis, published in April 2021, provides an in-depth analysis of existing protection policies for human rights defenders in Colombia,...
Sistema Información Legislativa de Paraguay
On the 16th of November 2016, a draft law on the Freedom of Expression and Protection of Journalists, Press Workers...