| 09-08-2018

Paraguay: Freedom for the 11 peasants of Curuguaty

On July 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of Paraguay acquitted the eleven peasants accused in the so called Curuguaty Case, and ordered the release of the four peasants who remained in prison.

The lack of impartiality of the Public Prosecutor's Office when conducting the investigations served as an argument to the judges to determine the acquittal of the convicts. Human Rights Organizations celebrate the decision. 

On 11 July 2016, eleven peasants were sentenced to prison terms of between four and thirty years, accused of the murder of six police officers during the protests that took place in 2012 at the Marina Cué hacienda in the province of Curuguaty, north of Paraguay As a result of these confrontations eleven peasants and six policemen were killed, in what was called "the Curuguaty massacre".

After some questionable diligences on the part of the Office of the Prosecutor, which limited itself to investigating the murder of the six policemen, eleven peasants were condemned for murder, disturbance of public order and constitution of a criminal organization.

The acquittal represents a historic decision for human rights defenders not only in Paraguay but throughout Latin America. However, it can not be forgotten that the death of eleven peasants during the massacre still remains unpunished and uninvestigated.

The criminalization and persecution of human rights defenders in Paraguay, especially those who defend the right to land and the rights of indigenous peoples, occurs in a context of discrimination and conflict over land ownership. Land conflicts in Paraguay have led to a spiral of violence against peasants that ranges from defamation by governmental and private actors, the presence of private militias and death threats, to judicial persecution.

FIAN International had advocated and     reported on the Curuguaty case, and particularly welcomes the recommendation that the German Government made to the Government of Paraguay in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations in 2016, "to guarantee the conduct of impartial and independent criminal investigations and procedures in the Curuguaty case, in order to clarify complaints and bring the perpetrators to justice." However, this recommendation will only be fulfilled once all the deaths of the Curuguaty massacre are duly investigated and judged.

Read more     background on the criminalization of peasants in Paraguay