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TITLE:  PARAGUAY HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            PARAGUAY


Paraguay has been independent since 1811, but until 1989 was 
ruled almost continuously by authoritarian regimes.  On August 
15, Juan Carlos Wasmosy, Paraguay's first freely elected 
civilian President, completed his initial year of a 5-year 
term.  Wasmosy pledged to consolidate the nation's democratic 
transition, which began following the February 1989 overthrow 
of dictator General Alfredo Stroessner.  Paraguay is a 
constitutional republic with a strong executive branch and an 
increasingly important bicameral legislature.  The President is 
the Head of Government and cannot succeed himself.  The 
Colorado Party and the armed forces continue to exercise 
substantial influence, although the opposition's power has 
increased as a result of a combination of the changes brought 
about by the June 1992 Constitution and the subsequent election 
of a civilian President and an opposition-controlled Congress.

The national police force, under the overall authority of the 
Ministry of the Interior, has responsibility for maintaining 
internal security and public order.  Police abuses of human 
rights, including extrajudicial killings, continued in 1994.  
In contrast to previous years, however, the Government did  
convict and sentence three police officers for killing 
civilians.  Members of the armed forces continued to insert 
themselves into the political process, including using their 
influence over the courts to ensure decisions that validate 
their political activities.  While some military officials 
accused of human rights abuses during 1994 were suspended and 
investigated, none were arrested, sentenced, or convicted.

Paraguay has a market economy based on the export of primary 
agricultural products.  A substantial percentage of the work 
force is employed in the informal economy, which may account 
for 40 to 60 percent of the gross domestic product.  Efforts to 
privatize state-owned enterprises continued in 1994.  Real 
economic growth was expected to be about 3.6 percent.

Principal human rights problems included extrajudicial 
killings, torture and mistreatment of criminal suspects and 
prisoners, police and military corruption, detention of 
suspects without judicial orders, general weaknesses within the 
judiciary, firings of labor organizers, and military intrusions 
into the judicial and political systems.  The Government began 
efforts to convict and punish those committing human rights 
abuses during the Stroessner era, and the courts sentenced 
persons in several such cases in 1994.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were at least two extrajudicial killings involving 
security force officials, including the shooting of peasant 
leader Sebastian Larrosa (reportedly by local police official 
Augusto Palacios) and the killing by naval official Walter 
Arce, apparently while inebriated, of Leonardo Molinas.  Both 
cases remained under investigation at year's end.

In April Elena Cubas killed peasant leader Esteban Balbuena in 
Colonia 7 de Agosto, Itapua.  Balbuena was one of the most 
visible organizers and participants in local rural worker 
organizations and in demonstrations against the Government's 
agrarian policy.  Although police officials originally 
dismissed the killing as a "crime of passion," when Cubas was 
arrested, she originally told police that she followed the 
instructions of unnamed officials.  She later recanted, and the 
case remained under investigation at year's end.

During the year at least two other peasant leaders were also 
killed.  In August several unidentified attackers fought with 
and killed German Ayala, a peasant leader in Itapua and a 
witness in the Balbuena case.  In April three unknown persons 
killed Hilario Sanabria, a peasant leader in Caaguazu, while he 
was returning home from a soccer game.  Their associates 
asserted that antipeasant vigilante groups were responsible.  
There was no indication that the Government investigated these 
claims.

In a departure from prior practice, the Government began to 
convict and punish police officials who committed serious human 
rights abuses.  In April police official Aurelio Enciso was 
sentenced to 6 years of prison for the 1991 killing of Juan 
Desiderio Ortellado Cardozo, a 14-year-old suspected of 
trespassing.  In September police official Marciano Ramon Lopez 
Pintos was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 1989 murders 
of Gregorio Bernal and Pablo Gonzalez.  Also in September, 
police official Cirilio Paniagua was sentenced to 8 years in 
prison for the 1990 killing of Fermina Martinez Velazquez.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reported cases of abductions by security forces.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture and brutal and degrading treatment of convicted 
prisoners and other detainees continued.  Police, military, and 
prison guards were implicated in the mistreatment of 
individuals in their custody.  Although the authorities 
arrested some and held them for investigation and trial, they 
actually tried, convicted, or appropriately punished very few.  
There were credible reports of mistreatment of women and minors 
and of brutal attempts to force confessions out of detainees.

A respected human rights group, Tekojoja, reported that 
children in police custody were particularly susceptible to 
physical punishment, with torture and abuse occurring against 
juveniles at a higher rate than against adult detainees.  The 
human rights group accused the police in several cases of 
torturing minors by placing plastic bags over their heads, 
knocking out their teeth, using a hammer to beat their backs, 
or scalding their hands and feet to force a confession.  Many 
minors reported being denied food, drink, or access to 
bathrooms for up to 3 days.  Both Tekojoja and another 
well-known human rights group, the Committee of Churches, filed 
charges against several officials for the abuse of minors in 
their custody.  None of the many persons charged in court of 
torturing minors were convicted during the year.

Prison conditions remained poor.  Overcrowding and mistreatment 
of prisoners were the most serious problems.  Conditions were 
particularly poor in the Panchito Lopez youth prison.  An 
independent investigation of the prison revealed that the 
institution was unsanitary, unsafe, and extremely overcrowded; 
although originally built as a single family home, the 
institution houses between 130 and 150 detainees.  The Tacumbu 
men's prison is similarly overcrowded.  The human rights 
committee of the Brazilian Attorneys' Association released a 
statement declaring that the Paraguayan prisons in Alto Parana 
and Canindeyu were "inhuman."  The Government permits 
independent monitoring of prison conditions by interested 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's).

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits detention without an arrest warrant 
signed by a judge and stipulates that any person arrested must 
be presented before a judge within 48 hours to make a statement.
The police can arrest persons without a warrant if they catch 
them in the act of committing a crime, but must present them 
before a judge within 24 hours.  However, the authorities often 
violated these provisions.  More than 90 percent of an 
estimated 3,000 prisoners are held without arrest warrants, 
orders of detention, or convictions.  Courts have passed 
sentence on only 6 percent of the detainees at Tacumbu prison, 
only 2.5 percent of the detainees at the Buen Pastor women's 
prison, and virtually none of the detainees at the Panchito 
Lopez juvenile prison.  Although a bail system exists for most 
crimes, juveniles cannot post bond.  Furthermore, judges 
frequently set bail very high, and many accused are unable to 
post bond.

Throughout the year the authorities arrested and imprisoned 
individuals without following the constitutional legal 
process.  There were a number of cases similar to that of Lucia 
Galeano Rivas, who remained imprisoned 4 months without cause.  
Galeano Rivas was first imprisoned on the basis of an order 
signed by a justice of the peace who did not have the legal 
authority to issue such a warrant and which did not specify the 
grounds for her arrest.  Almost 3 months later, she appeared 
before a criminal court judge who could find no cause for her 
imprisonment and released her.  In many other cases, police 
officials took persons into custody by without a valid judicial 
order and did not present them before a judge for several days.

The Supreme Court, the Public Ministry, and a judicial working 
group took steps to reduce the large number of detainees held 
without being sentenced or without cause.  During the year, 
they reduced the number of criminal cases pending more than 
1 year by over 20 percent.  The Supreme Court and many criminal 
court judges also made quarterly visits to the prisons to 
identify and release improperly held individuals.  In August 
the authorities released Isabelino Villalba after he served 
20 years in prison without being sentenced.

The Constitution does not expressly prohibit forced exile but 
states that all citizens have the right to reside in their 
country.

Credible reports continued that landowners, many of them 
Brazilians living near the border in the Alto Parana, Canindeyu 
and Amambay departments, armed their employees to remove 
squatters from their property without court orders.  Some of 
the evictions reportedly were violent, and there were 
unsubstantiated reports of fatalities.  However, the 
authorities undertook no investigation into these incidents.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial branch is comprised of a five-member Supreme Court 
headed by a president.  There are four appellate tribunals: 
civil and commercial, criminal, labor, and juvenile.  Several 
minor courts and justices of the peace fall within these four 
functional areas.  Although the 1992 Constitution stipulates 
that all defendants have the right to an attorney at public 
expense, if necessary, there are only five public defenders 
available to the transient and the indigent.  Many destitute 
suspects receive little legal assistance, and few have access 
to an attorney sufficiently in advance of the trial to prepare 
a defense.  The State is represented by a Public Ministry 
official, who is responsible for bringing charges against 
accused persons.

Trials are conducted almost exclusively by presentation of 
written documents to a judge, who then renders a decision.  
Defendants and the State can present written testimony of 
witnesses and evidence.  All interested parties have access to 
all documents reviewed by the judge, and defendants can rebut 
witnesses.  Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence.  The 
judge alone determines guilt or innocence and decides 
punishment.  During the pretrial phase, the judge receives and 
may request investigative reports.  In this phase, the judge is 
also likely to make a personal inspection of the scene of the 
crime and of the available physical evidence.  The accused 
often appears before the court only twice:  to plead and to be 
sentenced.  An appellate judge automatically reviews all 
verdicts, and the law provides for appeals to the Supreme 
Court.  The military has its own judicial system.

Although the 1992 Constitution prescribes that judges be 
selected by a combination of an independent Magistrate's 
Council, the Congress, and the executive, that body was not 
constituted until late October.  Accordingly, many of the 
judges active during 1994 were holdover appointments made by 
former dictator Alfredo Stroessner serving in an interim 
capacity beyond their established 5-year term.  Several of them 
were alleged to make judicial decisions on the basis of 
bribery, intimidation, political motives, and friendship with 
senior military officers and Colorado Party officials.  In 
March the President ordered the transfer or retirement of over 
70 judges, and he made several judicial appointments by fiat.

Following the December 1992 discovery of government archives 
documenting various human rights abuses and implicating many 
former government officials of the Stroessner regime, in 1994 
the courts convicted several Stroessner-era officials for human 
rights abuses and imposed sentences of up to 25 years.  The 
Committee of Churches, one of the nation's most prominent human 
rights groups, had over 16 cases against alleged Stroessner-era 
human rights abusers pending at year's end.

There are no political prisoners, and the Government does not 
punish political activity.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

While the Government and its security forces generally did not 
interfere in the private lives of citizens, there were 
exceptions.  The Constitution provides that police may not 
enter private homes except to prevent a crime in progress or 
when the police possess a judicial warrant.  There were 
credible reports that at times the authorities ignored this 
legal guarantee, particularly in the country's interior.  There 
were also allegations that the Government occasionally spied on 
individuals and monitored communications for political and 
security reasons.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression and the 
press.  The public and the press exercised these rights more 
freely than at any time in the nation's recent history.  
Opposition viewpoints were freely discussed, and criticism of 
the Government was ubiquitous in the media.  On June 9, 
President Wasmosy signed the Declaration of Chapultepec 
pledging to support freedom of the press.  Nonetheless, there 
were some restrictions on expression.  Former presidential 
candidate Ricardo Canese was found guilty of criminal slander 
and sentenced to 4 months in prison and a $7,000 fine for 
accusing President Wasmosy of providing kickbacks to the family 
of former dictator Alfredo Stroessner during the construction 
of the Itaipu dam.  Canese appealed his conviction, and the 
case remained under review at year's end.

Government forces also occasionally inhibited reporting.  
During the May 2 general strike, police officials threatened 
seven reporters and told them to stop filming a clash between 
police and workers in Ciudad del Este.  Gunfire that same day 
gravely injured journalist Carlos Mariano Godoy while he was 
reporting on striking workers in the town of Tacuara, San 
Pedro.  Police officials beat several photographers when they 
attempted to photograph a clash between police and striking 
workers at an oil plant in Itaugua on August 17.  The Vice 
Minister of the Interior met with the photographers and 
promised to investigate police behavior.  At year's end, 
however, the authorities had taken no action against these 
police officials.  In April military officials confiscated 
reporter Ismael Villalba's camera and held him for over an 
hour, after he tried to photograph a Congressman meeting with a 
soldier.  The investigation into the May 1993 election day 
attack on independent television Channel 13 continued at year's 
end with no suspects having been arrested.

Some reporters were threatened and physically attacked during 
1994, although investigative reporting continued.  As in the 
past, threats were made against persons examining allegations 
of official corruption, the contraband trade, and ties to the 
Stroessner regime.

There were no restrictions on academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution establishes the right of association and 
peaceful assembly for all citizens, but the security forces 
occasionally impeded protest demonstrations.  A law regulating 
demonstrations in Asuncion limits the areas where and the hours 
when they may take place and requires that organizers notify 
the Asuncion police 24 hours before any rally in the downtown 
area.  The police may ban a protest but must provide written 
notification of such a ban within 12 hours of receipt of the 
organizers' request.  Under the law, a police ban is permitted 
only if a third party has already given notice of plans for a 
similar rally at the same place and time.  In addition, the law 
prohibits public meetings or demonstrations in front of the 
presidential palace and outside military or police barracks.

Most of the various political and social demonstrations and 
rallies occurred without incident.  Some rallies, however, 
ended in violent clashes with the police.  During the May 2 
general strike, violent incidents occurred in Tacuara, San 
Pedro; Fernando de la Mora, Central department; and in Ciudad 
del Este, Alto Parana.  The Government also attempted to 
inhibit a March 15 peasant rally to protest agrarian policy. 
Government forces established roadblocks at key road junctions 
leading to Asuncion and caused hours-long delays while police 
officials carried out time consuming and uncommon reviews of 
vehicle registrations and driver's licenses of persons 
transporting peasants to the rally.  The police also detained 
many bus passengers traveling to Asuncion.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of conscience for all 
persons and recognizes no official religion.  The Government 
continued to respect this freedom in 1994.  Roman Catholicism 
is the predominant religion, but all denominations are free to 
worship as they choose.  Adherence to a particular creed 
confers no legal advantage or disadvantage, and foreign and 
local missionaries proselytize freely.  All religious groups 
must be registered with the Ministry of Education and Worship, 
but no controls are imposed on these groups by the Government.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

All citizens travel freely within the country with virtually no 
restrictions.  There are no restrictions on foreign travel or 
emigration.  There are no established provisions to grant 
asylum or refugee status; the Immigration Department determines 
each request on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the 
Ministries of Foreign Relations and the Interior.  There were 
no reports of refugees forced to return to countries in which 
they feared persecution.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the right and ability to change their government 
through democratic means.  Multiple parties and candidates 
contest the nation's leadership positions.  Three parties 
elected candidates to the Congress, and nine candidates ran for 
the Presidency in 1993.  The Constitution and the Electoral 
Code mandate general elections every 5 years, voting by secret 
ballot, and universal suffrage.  The executive and legislative 
branches govern the country; opposition political parties 
control the Congress.  Debate is free, and the Congress 
routinely rejects important government proposals.

Vestiges remain of the Stroessner-era merging of the State and 
the ruling Colorado Party.  Throughout the year the press 
documented the use of state resources, particularly vehicles, 
to support party political rallies.  There were also credible 
reports of party officials requiring public employees to attend 
party functions.  In addition, the military continued to wield 
significant political power.

Members of indigenous groups are entitled to vote, and the 
percentage of indigenous people who exercised this privilege 
grew dramatically in recent years.  Nonetheless, the 
inhabitants of many indigenous communities were threatened or 
inhibited from fully exercising their political rights.  Some 
were threatened with death or with losing access to 
cooperatives and stores unless they supported certain party 
officials or practices.

While there are no formal legal impediments, women often face 
significant obstacles when they seek to participate in 
government and politics.  Participation by women in the 
political system, although improved in 1994, was still limited 
in the male-dominated society of Paraguay.  Few women serve in 
the Congress (3 of 45 Senators and 2 of 80 National Deputies), 
or the executive branch.  During the year, the President named 
two women to ambassadorial posts, and one woman, the Secretary 
for Women's Affairs, serves in the Cabinet.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Several human rights groups operate in Paraguay, including the 
Committee of Churches (an interdenominational group that 
monitors human rights and provides legal assistance), Prodemos 
(a group linked to the Catholic church), Tekojoja (a group 
dedicated to protection of children's rights), and the local 
chapter of the Association of Latin American Lawyers for the 
Defense of Human Rights.  The Government did not restrict the 
activities of any human rights groups in 1994.

The office of the Director General of Human Rights, located in 
the Ministry of Justice and Labor, continued to sponsor 
seminars to promote human rights awareness.  This office has 
access to congressional, executive, and judicial authorities.  
It does not have subpoena or prosecutorial powers but may 
forward information concerning human rights abuses to the 
office of the Attorney General for action.  It also serves as a 
clearing house for information on human rights and trained 
thousands of educators in human rights law in 1994.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Although the Constitution and other laws prohibit 
discrimination, certain groups faced significant discrimination 
in practice.

     Women

Exploitation of women, especially teenaged prostitutes, 
remained a serious problem.  The municipal health department of 
Asuncion reported that 58 percent of the prostitutes in the 
capital are minors under 18 years of age.  Police frequently 
raided brothels in which minors were employed.  In contrast to 
the impunity granted brothel owners in the past, in October the 
police arrested several brothel owners, including one former 
police commissioner.  However, the courts had sentenced none of 
the accused by year's end.

The Government only recently began pressing domestic violence 
charges against individuals.  To date, however, the courts have 
not yet convicted any perpetrators of violence against women.

The office of the Secretary for Women's Affairs continued to 
sponsor programs to enable women to have free and equal access 
to employment, social security, housing, ownership of land, and 
business opportunities.  However, authorities paid insufficient 
attention to sex-related job discrimination.  Some women 
complained that job promotions were conditioned upon their 
granting sexual favors.

     Children

The Constitution protects certain children's rights, including 
a stipulation that parents and the State care for, feed, 
educate, and support children.  Nonetheless, approximately 
26,000 children work in urban areas as street vendors, shining 
shoes, or as prostitutes.  The majority of these children 
suffer from malnutrition, lack of access to education, and 
disease.  The employers of some young girls working as domestic 
servants or nannies deny them access to education and mistreat 
them.  Employers sometimes charge those who seek to leave 
domestic jobs with robbery and turn them over to the police.

The armed forces Chief of Staff ordered all officers 
responsible for recruiting to ensure that all conscripts met 
the constitutionally mandated minimum age of 17 for military 
service.  Many officers violated this order with impunity, 
however, and the military took no disciplinary action against 
them.

     Indigenous People

Paraguay has an unassimilated and neglected indigenous 
population estimated at 75,000 to 100,000.  Weak organization 
and lack of financial resources continued to limit access by 
indigenous peoples to the political and economic system.  
Indigenous groups relied primarily upon parliamentary 
commissions to promote their particular interests, 
notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution provides 
indigenous people the right to participate in the economic, 
social, political, and cultural life of the nation.  The 
Constitution also contains protection for their property 
interests, but these constitutional rights are still not fully 
codified.

The Government's National Indigenous Institute has the 
authority to purchase land on behalf of indigenous communities 
and to expropriate private property under certain conditions to 
establish tribal homelands, but the entity continued to be 
poorly funded.  In addition, many indigenous people find it 
difficult to travel to the capital to solicit land titles or 
process the required documentation associated with land 
ownership.  The main problems facing the indigenous population 
were lack of education, malnutrition, lack of medical 
attention, and economic displacement resulting from development 
and modernization.  Despite frequent media attention, little 
progress was made in 1994 in dealing with these problems.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Korean and Chinese communities experience social and 
economic discrimination and are sometimes denied access to 
credit terms enjoyed by other Paraguayans.  They are also 
sometimes discriminated against in the housing market and do 
not have equal access to private institutions and schools.  
Although discrimination on the basis of national, racial, or 
ethnic background is unconstitutional, the only redress is 
through the civil courts.  Because of the costs, standard 
length of a civil case (approximately 3 to 4 years), and a lack 
of public confidence in those courts by those discriminated 
against, most never seek redress in court.  During the year 
there were no court judgments in civil cases brought on grounds 
of ethnic or racial discrimination.

     People with Disabilities

The 1992 Constitution guarantees equal opportunity to people 
with disabilities and mandates that the State provide them with 
health care, education, recreation, and professional training.  
It further requires that the State formulate a policy for the 
prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and integration into 
society of people with disabilities.  Legislation establishing 
these programs, however, has not yet been enacted.  Many people 
with disabilities face significant discrimination in 
employment; others are unable to seek employment because of a 
lack of accessible public transportation.  Other than the 
constitutional provisions establishing equal opportunity, 
accessibility for the disabled has not been mandated through 
law; the vast majority of the nation's buildings, both public 
and private, are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution allows both private and public sector workers 
(with the exception of the armed forces and the police) to form 
and join unions without government interference.  The 
Constitution contains several provisions which protect 
fundamental workers' rights, including an antidiscrimination 
clause, provisions for employment tenure, severance pay for 
unjustified firings, collective bargaining, and the right to 
strike.  Approximately 9 percent of workers are organized.

In general, unions are independent of the Government and 
political parties.  However one of the nation's three labor 
centrals, the Confederation of Paraguayan Workers (CPT), has 
traditionally been closely aligned with the ruling Colorado 
Party.  The Government does not require the CPT to comply with 
union election requirements to the same extent that it requires 
compliance from the other labor centrals.  Government officials 
were also accused of encouraging some of the recently organized 
public sector unions to affiliate with the CPT.

All unions must be registered with the Ministry of Justice and 
Labor.  The registration process is cumbersome and can take 
several months.  Furthermore, employers who wish to oppose the 
formation of a union can further delay union recognition by 
filing a writ with the Government opposing it.  Virtually all 
unions that request recognition eventually receive it, however. 
The Constitution protects the right to strike and bans binding 
arbitration.  Furthermore, high-level officials from the 
Ministry of Justice and Labor have made themselves available to 
mediate labor conflicts.  The Constitution protects strikers 
and leaders against retribution, and several strikes occurred 
in 1994.  Despite these provisions, employers dismissed many 
strikers and labor leaders for attempting to form unions, for 
carrying out routine union business, or for carrying out 
strikes.  The International Labor Organization (ILO) is 
currently considering two pending claims against the Government 
for alleged violations of international labor standards.

Unions are free to form and join federations or confederations 
and affiliate with and participate in international labor 
bodies.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for collective bargaining, and collective 
contracts were successfully concluded in many cases.  The 
number of successfully negotiated collective contracts 
continued to grow in 1994; however, collective contracts were 
still the exception rather than the norm in labor-management 
relations and typically reaffirmed minimum standards 
established by law.  When wages are not set in free 
negotiations between unions and employers, they are made a 
condition of individual employment offered to employees.

While the Constitution prohibits antiunion discrimination, the 
firing and harassment of some union organizers and leaders in 
the private sector continued.  Fired union leaders can seek 
redress in the courts, but the labor courts have been slow to 
respond to complaints and typically favor business in disputes. 
The courts are not required to order the reinstatement of 
workers fired for union activities.  As in previous years, in 
some cases where judges ordered reinstatement of discharged 
workers, the employers disregarded the court order with 
impunity.  There are a number of cases in which trade union 
leaders, fired within the last 5 years, have not yet received a 
decision from the courts.

There were over 20 strikes by unions affiliated with the 
independent labor central CUT alone, the vast majority of which 
were directly related to the firing of union organizers, to 
management violations of a collective contract, to management
efforts to prevent workers from freely associating, or to 
benefit demands such as payment of the minimum wage or  
contribution to the social security system.  The failure to 
meet salary payments frequently precipitated labor problems.  
Principal problems included bottlenecks in the judicial system 
and an inability of the Government to enforce labor laws.  
There were also complaints of management creating parallel or 
"factory" unions to compete with independently formed unions.  
There were several cases of workers not receiving the legally 
established minimum wage or overtime pay who choose not to 
protest because of fear of reprisal or anticipation of 
government inaction.

Paraguay has no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced labor.  However, substantiated cases 
of abuse of national service obligations occurred during 1994.  
There were several documented cases of draftees forced to serve 
as laborers for military officers in their residences or 
privately owned businesses.  Other than the abuse of national 
service obligations, the authorities appear to effectively 
enforce the law.  Domestics, children, and foreign workers are 
not forced to remain in situations amounting to coerced or 
bonded labor.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The office of the Director General for the Protection of Minors 
in the Ministry of Justice and Labor is responsible for 
enforcing child labor laws.  Minors between 15 to 18 years of 
age may be employed only with parental authorization and cannot 
be employed under dangerous or unhealthy conditions.  Children 
between 12 and 15 years of age may be employed only in family 
enterprises, apprenticeships, or in agriculture.  The Labor 
Code prohibits work by children under 12 years of age, and all 
children are required to attend elementary school.  In 
practice, however, many thousands of children, many younger 
than 12, work in urban areas engaged in informal employment 
such as selling newspapers and sundries, shining shoes, and 
cleaning car windows.  In rural areas, it is not unusual for 
children as young as 10 to work beside their parents in the 
field.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The executive, through the Ministry of Justice and Labor, has 
established a private sector minimum wage sufficient to 
maintain a minimally adequate standard of living.  The minimum 
salary was adjusted by 10 percent in June to $200 (379,000 
guarani) a month in response to a loss in real purchasing power 
of between 30 to 40 percent since 1989.  The Ministry is 
unable, however, to enforce the minimum wage, and most analysts 
agree that from 50 to 70 percent of workers earn less than the 
decreed minimum.

The Labor Code allows for a standard legal workweek of 
48 hours, 42 hours for night work, with 1 day of rest.  The law 
also provides for an annual bonus of 1 month's salary and a 
minimum of 6 vacation days a year.  The law requires overtime 
payment for hours in excess of the standard, but there are no 
prohibitions on excessive compulsory overtime.  Many employers, 
however, violate these provisions.  Workers in the 
transportation sector struck in March to demand that their work 
day be limited to 8 hours and that they be paid the minimum 
wage.

The Labor Code also stipulates conditions of safety, hygiene, 
and comfort.  However, the Ministry of Justice and Labor did 
not effectively enforce the Code's safety and hygiene 
provisions, partially due to the lack of inspectors.  This led 
the labor movement to sponsor inspector training programs 
designed to ensure that violations were registered with the 
Ministry.  Workers do not have the right to remove themselves 
from situations which endanger health or safety without 
jeopardy to their continued employment.  Although workers who 
file complaints about such conditions are protected by law, 
many employers took disciplinary action against protesting 
employees with impunity.


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[end of document]

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