Paraguay

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Persistent violations
  • The recruitment of children for military service[1](However, Paraguay has now set a minimum age of 18 on recruitment into the armed forces following a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.)
  • Juvenile justice: violence in prisons and the fact that children are not always separated from adults in detention centres[2]
  • The high rate of maternal and infant mortality caused by clandestine abortions[3]
  • Children in street situations[4]
  • The high number of child workers, particularly those working in domestic service, known as the “criadazgo” system[5]
  • Trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation[6]
  • The high number of unregistered children[7]
  • Discrimination against children from indigenous communities[8]
  • Discrimination against girls in the education system[9]
  • That the minimum age for marriage (16) is too low[10]
  • Domestic violence[11]
  • Sexual violence[12]
  • The use of toxic agro-chemicals that have led to deaths and illness[13]
  • Sexual and reproductive health education is inadequate[14]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. Human Rights Committee, Inter-American Commission and Court, Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  2. UN Special Rapporteur on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  9. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of toxic and dangerous products and human rights
  14. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education



Introduction

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The second smallest country in the Southern Cone of South America, Paraguay is landlocked between Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. Following decades of dictatorship, this democratic republic remains politically unstable, and is still seen as a haven for drug smuggling and money laundering. In relation to children’s rights, some of the most prominent issues include a low minimum age of criminal responsibility, children working in domestic labour and trafficking.

Geography

The Republic of Paraguay is the second smallest country in the Southern Cone of South America. It is landlocked between Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east, and Bolivia to the northwest. And due to its central location in the region, it is also known as El corazón de Ámerica, or Heart of America. The Paraguay River, the second most important in the La Plata Basin, divides the country into two regions: the eastern Paraná region where more than 95 per cent of the country’s population resides, and the lowlands of Western Paraguay, also known as the Chaco plain. The country’s capital and most populated city is Asunción.

Population and language

In 2009, Paraguay’s population stood at 6,340,639, of which 45 per cent is aged between 0-19 years.[1] Life expectancy at birth is 72.3. Ninety-five per cent of the population is of mixed European and Amerindian ethnicity, also known as mestizo. Brazilians represent the largest immigrant group, with an estimated 400,000 living in Paraguay. Spanish and Guaraní are the official languages.

Politics and legal system

Paraguay is a representative democratic republic with the President acting as both head of state and head of government. Voting is compulsory for citizens between the ages of 18 and 75, and non-compulsory for those older than 75, yet this rule is not enforced. After more than six decades of conservative rule under the Colorado Party, the Left achieved a historic victory in 2008 with former bishop Fernando Lugo voted into office. Paraguay’s legal system was founded on the 1987 Civil Code, which is based largely on the Napoleonic and the Argentinean Codes.

Economy

Paraguay has consistently shown the highest economic growth in South America, with a GDP rate of 14.5 per cent by the end of 2010.[2] Agriculture dominates the economy. The country is the sixth largest soy producer in the world. However, there have been several cases of deaths and illness of children and adults caused by the use of toxic agro-chemicals in soya bean plantations. Paraguay presents one of the most unequal rates of land distribution in the world, with 10 per cent of the population controlling 66 per cent of arable land, leaving 30 per cent of rural families landless. The industrial sector is also very important, accounting for 25 per cent of GDP. Paraguay is a member of the MERCOSUR free-trade agreement between Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Notably, the country is home to the world’s third leading free commercial zone: Ciudad del Este, after Miami and Hong Kong. Paraguay also has the world’s largest hydroelectric dam (by annual generation capacity), the Itaipu Dam, and sells 95 per cent of its share of the energy it generates to Brazil. The country also has a large informal sector consisting of the re-sale of imported goods to neighbouring countries and foreign citizens who cross the border to buy less expensive goods, micro-enterprises, urban street vendors and subsistent farmers.

Media and civil society

Reporters Without Borders ranks the country 54th out of 175 (with one being the most free) in its 2010 worldwide index of press freedom. There have been several notorious murders of local reporters and attacks on local radio stations that expose the illegal activities of drug cartels and speak out against complicity between the cartels and some political figures and members of the police and army. The current head of state, Fernando Lugo, announced that he would not support any press law that restricts the work of journalists.[3]

Children's rights

Several prominent children's rights issues include: the high number of child domestic workers, the failure to separate child detainees from adult prisoners in detention centres, trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, a lack of more severe punishment for perpetrators of domestic violence (currently only a fine), discrimination against indigenous children, discrimination against girls in schools, and the need to raise the minimum age for marriage from 16. Corporal punishment of children is prohibited in the penal system as a sentence for crime and disciplinary measure, yet it is lawful in the home, and it is not explicit prohibited in schools and alternative care settings.[4]

Footnotes:

  1. Dirección General de Estadísticas, Encuestas y Censos de Paraguay, ‘Anuario 2009 – Población y Vivienda’
  2. Banco Central del Paraguay
  3. Reporters Without Borders, Country Report – Paraguay, 2010
  4. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children Profile for Paraguay


Sources:


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