Paraguay: Pressure on conscientious objectors

Paraguay's de-facto government of Federico Franco, which came into power after a "parliamentary coup" which ousted the country's elected President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, is increasing the pressure on conscientious objectors in the country. The department on conscientious objection reported that more than 500 young people apply for conscientious objection daily, to avoid a fine which is prescribed in the law on military service.

The protests began when the Paraguayan authorities began to enforce articles of the military service law that require the payment of a fine or military tax from all those who did not do military service and had not been legally exempted. In addition, employers of draft evaders would also face the same fine - up to three month of the minimum salary.

The office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights has received several complaints from employers in the capital Asuncion and from around the country that the Department of Recruitment of the Armed Forces is demanding from employers that they check the documents of all their employees and of everyone seeking employment.

Early September, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and Labour, and Command of the Armed Forces and the Human Rights Ombudsman office signed an agreement and set up a commission to analyse the law on military service (Ley 569/1975) and the law on conscientious objection (Ley 4013/2010).

WRI's section in Paraguay, the Movement for Conscientious Objection (MOC) remains alert and is opposed to the attempts by the new government to re-establish a de-facto compulsory military service in the country.

Sources: Radio Nederland Latinoamerica: Paraguay: Objetores de conciencia en alerta, 6 September 2012; La Nacion: Comisión analiza aplicabilidad de las leyes del servicio militar y de la objección de conciencia, 4 September 2012