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Paraguay: Alarming increase in use of pesticides compromises human rights says UN expert

14 October 2022

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ASUNCION/GENEVA

ASUNCION/GENEVA (14 October 2022) The excessive use of pesticides in Paraguay is poisoning the country and seriously affecting the lives and health of its people, a UN expert said today.

"Laws that control pesticides are not enforced in Paraguay. This generates impunity for human rights violations and abuses of thousands of people exposed to toxic contamination," said Marcos Orellana, UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, following an official visit to Paraguay.

Presenting his preliminary observations at the end of the visit, Orellana said that while there were cooperatives that seek to work the land responsibly, the agro-industrial production model favoured by the State has victimised communities through the relentless increase in aerial and ground spraying of hazardous pesticides.

The expert said that indigenous peoples and peasant communities were being cornered by monocultures and other crops dependent on pesticides. “Those who oppose the contamination of their communities are often criminalised by the Public Prosecutor's Office,” Orellana said.

"The high concentration of land in the hands of a few, and the consequent exclusion of large segments of the population, aggravates these environmental injustices," he said.

Orellana urged authorities in Paraguay to ensure immediate compliance with the Human Rights Committee's rulings on the Campo Agua'ẽ and Colonia Yerutí cases, and to ratify the Escazú Agreement on environmental rights.

"It is the responsibility of the State to guarantee the right to a healthy environment and to protect its population from the indiscriminate effects of the use of hazardous pesticides in Paraguay,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Orellana used the opportunity to reiterate that the international community must end the double standard of trade of hazardous pesticides that are prohibited from use in their countries of origin.

He met with government officials, relatives of victims, civil society representatives, the private sector and UN agencies. Orellana also visited peasant communities and indigenous peoples in the departments of Presidente Hayes, Alto Paraná, Canindeyú, San Pedro and Guiará.

The Special Rapporteur will present a full report to the Human Rights Council in September 2023. The report will also focus on the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste and implementation of international environmental agreements related to industrial chemicals and mercury, among other issues.

Dr. Marcos A. Orellana is the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what are known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with 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 of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page - Paraguay

For additional information and media requests, please contact the OHCHR Secretariat: Sonia Cuesta(+41-79-752-0481/[email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Renato Rosario De Souza ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected]).

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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