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Paraguay’s case against judges erodes independence of judiciary, says UN expert


GENEVA (5 November 2018) – Paraguay must drop the prosecution of Supreme Court judges who had acquitted 11 peasant farmers jailed over the deaths of police officers during a violent eviction in the so-called Curuguaty Massacre of 2012, a UN expert said today.

The Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, said the Prosecutor-General’s case filed in August this year against the three judges, , Cristóbal Sánchez, Arnaldo Martínez Prieto y Emiliano Rolón Fernández, could undermine the rule of law and the principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary. “These are fundamental elements in the full enjoyment of human rights,” the expert said.

“It is the obligation of the State to ensure judges be allowed to decide the case before them impartially, based on their interpretation of facts, as stipulated in the Basic Principles on Independence of the Judiciary,” García-Sayán said. The Government of Paraguay also must develop and ensure adequate means against unjustified or improper intrusions in the judicial process.

“No Judge should be removed, or be subject to judicial or disciplinary proceedings as a result of exercising their judicial responsibilities,” said the expert.

The Special Rapporteur has been in contact with the Government over the case.


Mr. Diego García-Sayán was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. Mr. García-Sayán was formerly a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for two consecutive terms. During his tenure, he was elected Vice-President of the Court (2008-2009) and President of the Court for two consecutive terms (2009-2013). He has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Among others, he was: Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Peace Agreements at El Salvador and for the subsequent verification of the agreements reporting directly to the Security Council; member and Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during several years; member of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations System of Administration of Justice, appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2006; Head of the Electoral Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAs) in Guatemala during the general elections (2007). Learn more.

Read the Independent Expert’s statement to the Human Rights Council.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Paraguay

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.

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