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Title:  Paraguay Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    



	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 second 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 the changes brought 
about by the June 1992 Constitution and the subsequent election of a 
civilian President and an opposition-controlled Congress.  The 
Constitution provides for an independent judiciary.  A new nine-member 
Supreme Court was installed in April, and started the difficult task of 
reforming the judicial system.

The national police force, under the overall authority of the Ministry 
of the Interior, has responsibility for maintaining internal security 
and public order.  The civilian authorities maintain effective control 
of the security forces.  Instances of police abuses of human rights, 
including at least two possible cases of extrajudicial killings, took 
place during the year.

Paraguay has a market economy with a large informal sector.  The formal 
economy is oriented towards services, with less than half of the $8 
billion gross domestic product resulting from agriculture and industry.  
Over 40 percent of the population is engaged in agricultural activity.  
Wealth continues to be concentrated, with both urban and rural areas 
supporting a large subsistence sector.  Agricultural commodities 
(soybeans, cotton, lumber, and cattle) continue to be the most important 
export items.  The formal economy has grown an average of 3 to 3.5 
percent over the past 5 years, but population has increased at 3 percent 
a year over the same period.  Both growth rates are expected to 
continue.  Annual per capita income (excluding the informal economy) is 
approximately $1,500.  Government reform efforts, including 
privatization, continued but advanced little in 1995.

The Government's human rights record improved somewhat, although serious 
problems remain in certain areas.  Principal human rights problems 
included possible instances of extrajudicial killings, torture and 
mistreatment of criminal suspects and prisoners, overcrowded prisons, 
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.  Discrimination against women and indigenous 

people are also problems.  However, the Government acted with restraint 
by using unarmed policemen to control demonstrators during a general 
strike in September.  In addition, the Government continued its efforts 
to convict and punish those who committed human rights abuses during the 
Stroessner era, bringing several cases to a successful conclusion.

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 reported instances of possible extrajudicial 
killings involving security force officials.  On July 2 in Canindeyu 
department near the Brazilian border, 48 policemen stormed a house in 
pursuit of a man suspected of having killed a police officer.  The 
suspect and four of his relatives (all Brazilians) were killed in the 
ensuing shoot-out.  Neighbors and surviving relatives accused the police 
of torturing and executing several of the victims after they had 
surrendered.  A police investigation resulted in a determination of no 
criminal liability.  In another case, Francisco Torales, a 23-year-old 
carpenter, was walking home with his brother from a party when he became 
involved in an argument with a policeman and was killed; the policeman 
fled and has not yet been apprehended.

Pedro Jimenez, a 17-year-old participant in a peasant protest march on 
September 7, was shot in the head and later died, while several other 
marchers received bullet wounds.  The brother of the slain protester 
claimed that he had seen a policeman fire the fatal bullet.  However, 
the bullet retrieved from Jimenez's body was metallic (police claimed 
that they used rubber bullets), and was not of a caliber normally used 
by the police.  Other eyewitness accounts of the shooting are 
inconsistent.  The case remains under investigation.

The 1994 shooting case of peasant leader Sebastian Larrosa (reportedly 
by local police official Augusto Palacios) is still under investigation.  
The trial for the 1994 killing of Leonardo Molinas ended with the 
acquittal of the defendant, Walter Arce, on grounds of self-defense.  
The 1994 killing of peasant leader Esteban Balbuena by Elena Cubas, who 
recanted a confession that she had acted at the behest of unnamed 
officials, remains under investigation.

	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.  There was no evidence that senior officers 
encouraged or condoned such conduct, which was apparently committed by 
undisciplined security force members.  A human rights group, the 
Committee of Churches, filed several lawsuits on behalf of tortured 
prisoners, and these cases remained pending in the courts.  There were 
credible reports of mistreatment of women and minors and of brutal 
attempts to force confessions out of detainees.  No administrative 
action was taken in these cases.

Another human rights group, Tekojoja, reported in 1994 that children in 
police custody were particularly susceptible to physical punishment.  It 
stated that torture and abuse, typically beatings and placing a plastic 
bag over the head, occur against juveniles at a higher rate than against 
adult detainees.  This pattern of police conduct reportedly continued, 
and the Committee of Churches filed several new cases against detention 
officials for the abuse of minors in their custody.  These cases were 
pending in the courts at year's end; no administrative action was taken.

An activist in the conscientious objector movement claimed to have been 
forcibly removed from a bus and taken to a military barracks at Ciudad 
del Este on November 4.  The individual reported that he was beaten and 
abused.  However, he did not file a complaint, and thus the police have 
not opened an investigation.

Prison conditions remained poor.  Overcrowding and mistreatment of 
prisoners were the most serious problems.  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 appear 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 bring them before a judge within 24 hours.  However, the 
authorities often violated these provisions.  More than 90 percent of an 
estimated 1,700 prisoners are being held pending trial.  As of June, 
courts had passed sentence on only 99 out of 1,366 detainees at Tacumbu 
Prison, 10 out of 95 at Emboscada Prison, 6 out of 117 at Buen Pastor 
Women's Prison, and 7 out of 140 minors at the Panchito Lopez Juvenile 
Prison.  Although a bail system exists for most crimes, juveniles cannot 
post bond.  Furthermore, judges frequently set relatively high bail, 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 Octaciano Nunez Goiburu, 
released in September, who spent nearly 2 years in jail because police 
had mistaken him for another man and failed to bring him before a judge 
on charges within a reasonable time.

The Supreme Court, the Public Ministry (Attorney General's office), 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 by over 20 percent the number of criminal cases 
pending more than 1 year.  The Supreme Court and many criminal court 
judges also made quarterly visits to the prisons to identify and release 
improperly held individuals.  For example, Aquino Alcaraz was sentenced 
to 10 years in prison for abuse of a minor, but actually made to serve 
13 1/2 years before a Supreme Court order finally released him.

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

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

	e.	Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the new 
nine-member Supreme Court is independent in practice.  The new Supreme 
Court was selected jointly by an independent Magistrates' Council, the 
Senate, and the executive earlier in the year.  There are four types of 
appellate tribunals:  civil and commercial, criminal, labor, and 
juvenile.  Several minor courts and justices of the peace fall within 
these four functional areas.  Based on recommendations from the 
Magistrates' Council, the Supreme Court has begun selecting some 650 
lower court judges and magistrates.  Many of the judges active during 
1995 were holdover appointments made by former dictator Alfredo 
Stroessner, who were serving in an interim capacity beyond their 
established 5-year term.  The Chief Justice accused many of them of 
making judicial decisions in return for bribes.  Intimidation, political 
motives, and friendship with senior military officers and Colorado Party 
officials are also suspected as factors influencing judicial decisions.

 Although the 1992 Constitution stipulates that all defendants have the 
right to an attorney, at public expense if necessary, there are only 31 
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.  A Public Ministry official is responsible in most cases 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 
Public Ministry can present written testimony of witnesses as well as 
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.

In March a separate documentation center and repository was created to 
hold the government archives discovered in December 1992, which document 
various human rights abuses and implicate many former government 
officials of the Stroessner regime.  The courts continued to convict 
several Stroessner-era officials--
Lucilo Benitez, Pastor Coronel, Martinez Chavez, Augustin Belotto, and 
Camilo Almada Morel--for human rights abuses and imposed sentences of up 
to 25 years.  However, the Committee of Churches still had several cases 
against alleged Stroessner-era human rights abusers pending at year's 
end.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

	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 allegations that the Government occasionally spied 
on individuals and monitored communications for political and security 
reasons.  There were also accusations that some government agencies 
required or pressured their employees to join the ruling Colorado Party.

 Section 2	Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

	a.	Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression and the press, 
including academic freedom, and the Government respects these rights in 
practice.  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.  However, in July Judge Carlos Monges issued an injunction 
ordering Radio Nanduti, a respected independent station, to refrain from 
commenting on allegedly corrupt actions by former President Andres 
Rodriguez.  This decision was subsequently rescinded on appeal.  In 
September a judicial ethics tribunal ordered Monges' removal for misuse 
of office, unprofessional behavior, and suspected corruption in numerous 
cases.

The 1994 case of former presidential candidate Ricardo Canese remains 
under judicial appeal.  He 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.  The Vice Minister 
of the Interior had promised to investigate police behavior after police 
officers beat several news photographers who were attempting to 
photograph a clash between police and striking workers at a cooking oil 
plant in Itaugua on August 17, 1994.  However, the authorities made no 
effort to fulfill that promise.  No suspects have yet been found in 
connection with a May 1993 election day attack on independent television 
Channel 13.

	b.	Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of all citizens to free 
association and peaceful assembly.  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.  The law permits a police ban 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 political and social demonstrations and rallies occurred without 
incident.  Some rallies, however, ended in violent clashes with the 
police.  On July 25, Armed Forces Day, opposition Senator Nilda 
Estigarriba received wounds to her head after a confrontation with 
police during a protest march.   The police investigation concluded that 
the demonstrators had provoked the police.  The September 7 death of 
Pedro Jimenez occurred during a melee that ensued when police attempted 
to prevent protesting peasants from blocking a major road (see Section 
1.a.).  However, the authorities showed increased restraint in dealing 
with a general strike in September (see Section 6.b.).

	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.  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 the 
Government imposes no controls on these groups.

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

All citizens travel freely within the country with virtually no 
restrictions.  Nor are there any 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.  Four parties are represented in 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 frank; it is not uncommon for legislators 
to trade insults or physical blows.  The Congress routinely rejects 
important government proposals and overrides presidential vetoes.

Vestiges remain of the Stroessner-era merging of the State and the 
ruling Colorado Party.  The press has reported the use of state 
resources, particularly vehicles, to support party political rallies.  
There were also credible reports of government officials requiring 
public employees to attend  Colorado Party functions and contribute to 
party coffers.  In addition, the military continues to wield significant 
political power.

There are no formal legal impediments to women seeking to participate in 
government and politics.  Five women serve in the Congress (3 of 45 
Senators and 2 of 80 National Deputies), and there is 1 woman, the 
Secretary for Women's Affairs, in the Cabinet.  Seven women served as 
judges, and 30 women served as Public Ministry prosecutors.

Members of indigenous groups are entitled to vote, and the percentage of 
indigenous people who exercised this right grew dramatically in recent 
years.  Nevertheless, the inhabitants of some indigenous communities 
report being threatened and inhibited from fully exercising their 
political rights.

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.

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 Attorney General for action.  It also serves as a 
clearing house for information on human rights and has trained thousands 
of educators in human rights law.

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

Reports of spousal abuse are rare, but the Government has recently begun 
to press charges in cases of domestic violence.  To date, however, the 
courts have not yet convicted any perpetrators of domestic violence 
against women.

 There is legislation which prohibits trafficking in women and sexual 
exploitation, but it is not enforced effectively.  Exploitation of 
women, especially teenage prostitutes, remains a serious problem.  In 
1994 the municipal health department of Asuncion reported that 58 
percent of the prostitutes in the capital are minors under 18 years of 
age, a figure that reportedly reflects conditions in 1995.  In October 
1994 the police arrested several brothel owners, including one former 
police commissioner, but the cases were eventually dropped for alleged 
lack of criminal evidence, and because the municipality declined to 
prosecute.

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.

Several groups work in Asuncion to improve conditions for women.  One is 
SEFEM, which highlights successfully such issues as women and public 
policy, women and social policy at the local level, participation of 
women in local development, and women in the Americas.  Other groups 
include Sumando, a NGO promoting educational reform policy and voter 
participation in elections, and Women for Democracy, active in civic and 
electoral education.  These groups are effective advocates for change.

	Children

The Constitution protects certain children's rights, including a 
stipulation that parents and the State care for, feed, educate, and 
support children.  Boys and girls are entitled to equal treatment in 
education and health care.  There is no pattern of societal abuse of 
children.  However, approximately 26,000 children work in urban areas as 
street vendors 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 
falsely charge those who seek to leave domestic jobs with robbery and 
turn them over to the police.

Baby trafficking continued to be a serious problem, as foreign adoptive 
parents were willing to pay from $20,000 to $40,000 in adoption fees and 
costs for a healthy child.  In September the President signed a law 
providing for a 1-year suspension of international adoptions in order to 
study and pass new legislation to alleviate the problem.

 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 years for military service.  There were 
reported violations, however, and the military took no known 
disciplinary action against those responsible, although in one instance 
President Wasmosy publicly berated the offending officer.  In October a 
16-year-old conscript died reportedly while performing disciplinary 
physical exercises.  The case is now under investigation by military 
authorities.  The media regularly report cases of conscripts allegedly 
mistreated by non-commissioned and commissioned officers.

	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 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.

	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 people 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 with the right to participate in the economic, social, political, 
and cultural life of the nation.  The Constitution also protects their 
property interests, but these constitutional rights are still not fully 
codified.  In accordance with the Constitution, Public Ministry 
officials may represent indigenous people in matters involving the 
protection of life and property.

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.  
However, 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 are lack of education, malnutrition, lack of 
medical care, and economic displacement resulting from development and 
modernization.  Despite frequent media attention and meetings with 
government officials, little progress was made in dealing with these 
problems.

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 worker 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.

All unions must be registered with the Ministry of Justice and Labor.  
The registration process is cumbersome and can take several months.  
Employers who wish to oppose the formation of a union can further delay 
union recognition by filing a writ opposing it.  However, virtually all 
unions that request recognition eventually receive it.  The Constitution 
provides for the right to strike, bans binding arbitration, and 
prohibits retribution against strikers and leaders carrying out routine 
union business.  Although high-level officials from the Ministry of 
Justice and Labor are available to mediate labor disputes, the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee on Freedom of 
Association criticized the Government for failing to protect worker 
rights in four cases concluded in November.

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 many collective 
contracts were successfully concluded.  The number of successfully 
negotiated collective contracts continued to grow; however, they 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 offers of employment made 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 favored 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 as long as 5 years ago, have not yet received a decision from the 
courts.

There were more than 15 strikes by unions affiliated with the Unitary 
Workers Central (CUT) alone.  The vast majority of these were directly 
related to the firing of union organizers, to management violations of a 
collective contract, to management efforts to prevent the free 
association of workers, or to demands for benefits such as payment of 
the minimum wage or contribution to the social security system.  The 
failure to meet salary payments frequently precipitated labor disputes.  
Principal problems included bottlenecks in the judicial system and the 
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 who chose not to protest because of fear of reprisal or 
anticipation of government inaction.  The CUT and the National Workers 
Central cosponsored a general strike on September 25 to protest 
government economic policy and the alleged "repression" of peasant land 
squatters.  The general strike was marked by shuttered shops, scattered 
violence, roadblocks, and demonstrations, but no deaths occurred.  A 
judge threatened to charge labor leaders with inciting violence, but no 
action was taken.

There are no export processing zones.

	c.	Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced labor.  However, cases of abuse of national 
service obligations occurred.  There were several reports of draftees 
forced to work as servants for military officers in their residences or 
privately owned businesses.  Apart from abusing 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 and 18 years of age may be employed only with 
parental authorization and cannot be employed in 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 of them younger than 12, may 
be found 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.  Local human rights groups, however, 
do not regard families harvesting the crop together as an abuse of child 
labor.

	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 15 percent in May to approximately $222 a month (436,425 guaranies) 
in response to a loss in real purchasing power of more than 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 transport sector staged several strikes 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 these 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 reportedly took disciplinary action against 
protesting employees.


#####

[end of document]

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