| 15-06-2015

Curuguaty case: Three years of criminalization and injustice

Three years after the 'Curuguaty Massacre', we continue observing a patent partiality and dilation of justice, and the criminalization of social protest in Paraguay. Meanwhile, the trial against the peasant survivors of the slaughter is just around the corner.

The 15th June marks the third anniversary of the so-called '    Curuguaty Massacre', whose judicial process has been permeated with irregularities. Days before the trial against the peasants - scheduled for June 22 after being postponed several times – FIAN International, Food First, La Via Campesina (LVC) and Transnational Institute (TNI) express concern once again over the lack of impartiality by Paraguayan justice, as well as the growing criminalization of social struggles and human rights defenders. 

Three years ago, six policemen and eleven peasants died during the forced eviction of a peasant community that occupied an area known as 'Kue Marina', located in the district of Curuguaty. As a result, more than ten people of the community would face trial for various criminal offenses, including attempted murder and criminal association. The defendants are also accused of invasion of property, even though the ownership of the land has yet to be determined in court, and it was taken by landowners illegally in the first place. 

On another note, up to date, there is no evidence that progress has been made with investigations around     alleged torture and extrajudicial killings of the peasants during the arrest and the days after the massacre. In this context, the peasants accused face social stigmatization and live in a precarious situation, being restricted in their freedom of movement and their freedom to work. Relatives and witnesses have also been criminalized, with the objective of silencing social protest.

FIAN International, FoodFirst, LVC and TNI also emphasize the criminalization of three human rights lawyers in the Curuguaty case, Vicente Morales Benítez, Guillermo Ferreiro y María del Carmen Morales Benítez, against whom administrative proceedings opened without respecting the due process. This seems to be a trend in Paraguay, as evidenced by the     procedure launched in February 2015 against Julia Cabello Alonso, a human rights lawyer of the Sawhoyamaxa indigenous community and Executive Coordinator of the non-governmental organization Tierraviva.

We note that since the massacre, aggression against indigenous peoples and peasant communities has worsened, thereby granting full immunity to the various stakeholders of agribusiness and government forces. Such attitudes as a whole favor the expansion of agribusiness, without respecting human rights or environmental regulations.

The organizations and social movements welcome     the transfer of the trial from the city of Salto del Guaira, to the capital, Asuncion, after being requested by the defense, in order to ensure transparency and accessibility for monitoring. We reiterate, however, the need to ensure a transparent trial which respects the due process and fair treatment of the accused and the need to stop the criminalization of defenders of human rights in Paraguay.

For more information, see the '    Report on the Marina Kue Case and Curuguaty Massacre'
For media enquiries, please contact     delrey[at]fian.org

This press release was published hours before the judicial authorities announced the trial would be delayed for the third time "due to the lack of available courtrooms", and would be re-scheduled for 27 July.