ICJ protests Paraguay arrests

The ICJ has strongly protested the arrest by Paraguayan authorities yesterday of at least 18 opposition leaders just days before the 40th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a letter to the Paraguayan Ambassador in Geneva, the ICJ also criticized the 5 December decision by the Paraguayan Ministry of the Interior to ban a peaceful demonstration called by 30 of the country’s main political parties, unions, peasant groups and civic associations for 10 December to ce1ebrate the Human Rights declaration.

The action, said the Geneva-based ICJ, is “particularly untimely as the Declaration which the world prepares to celebrate on Saturday enshrines, in Article 20, ‘the freedom of peaceful assembly and association’.”

Organizers of the march have announced that they will proceed anyway.

Those arrested were all involved in the organisation of the demonstration and include Dr. Domingo Laino, head of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) and the 1eading opposition figure in the country, as well as: Juan Manuel Benitez Florentin, Vice President, PRLA; Ligia Prieto de Centurión, Unión of Paraguayan Women and her children, Maria Ligia Centurión and Armando Centurión; Luis Guanes Gondra, PRLA board member; Elsa Mereles, Secretary-General of the Nurses Union; Pedro Pontillo, Committee of Churches for Emergency Aid; Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Waldino Ramon Lodera, Alejandro Stumps and Eduardo San Marin, leaders of the Popular Colorado Movement (MOPOCO); Marina Arron, leader of the Democratic Popular Movement; Oscar Ocosta, Secretary-General of the Jounalists Association, and Fernando Dera, Ex-President of the Febrerista party.

The arrests are continuing, however, and the total number is unknown.

The ICJ, which has worked to promote the rule of law for 30 years, and was the first recipient of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Prize, called on the Paraguayan government to promptly release the detainees and to authorize the demonstration.

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