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REPUBLIC OF PARAGUAY: Acquittal of campesinos accused in Curuguaty case is a victory for human rights

3 Aug 2018
[International Secretariat]
Region: REPUBLIC OF PARAGUAY
Topic:

The decision of the Paraguay Supreme Court of Justice to acquit 11 people and order the release of four campesinos (peasant farmers) who remained in prison, unfairly convicted over the death of six police officers during a violent eviction in the district of Curuguaty in 2012, represents a great victory for human rights, Amnesty International said today.

“After six years of fighting for justice in this terrible case, today we finally celebrate the acquittal of 11 campesinos unfairly accused of the death of six police officers, in a case that has shocked both Paraguayan society and the international community. The court’s ruling is a triumph for human rights in Paraguay”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“However, the Paraguayan authorities still have an outstanding duty to guarantee justice, truth and reparation for the deaths of 11 campesinos that they have refused to investigate, and continue to investigate the death of the six police officers.”

On 15 June 2012, an operation carried out by over 300 police officers to evict around 70 campesinos occupying land inCuruguaty, in the department of Canindeyú, ended in the death of 11 campesinos and six police officers.

National and international organizations denounced cases of torture and the unnecessary and excessive use of force, including the use of firearms, by police during the operation in Curuguaty. However, the Paraguayan authorities only investigated the death of the six police officers, and determined that 11 campesinos were allegedly responsible in proceedings plagued with irregularities and violations of due process. The deaths of the 11 campesinos remain unpunished.

On 26 July 2018, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice acquitted the 11 accused, upon establishing that it had not been proven that they committed the crimes they were accused of. The judges overturned the sentences against the 11 accused, ordering their immediate release and ruling out any new trial.

“The ruling of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice brings to mind a strong message from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: that in the face of loss of life, the state has an obligation to effectively investigate all events, especially when state agents are involved, because should they fail to do so they would be creating conditions in which such events can be repeated in an atmosphere of impunity”, said Rosalía Vega, Executive Director of Amnesty International Paraguay.

In June 2016, Amnesty International Paraguay launched a campaign to demand that the Paraguayan state comply with its obligation to carry out an independent, impartial and comprehensive investigation to guarantee truth, justice and reparation for the victims of the human rights violations committed in Curuguaty and throughout the criminal proceedings against those accused of the death of the six police officers.

Amnesty International will continue to call on the Paraguayan state to insist that all human rights violations committed in theCuruguaty case be adequately investigated and do not remain unpunished.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker: +52 (1) 55 4848 8266,duncan.tucker@amnesty.org

27 July 2018
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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