The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Paraguay

By Vexen Crabtree 2022

#human_rights #Paraguay #paraguay_human_rights #religion_in_Paraguay #venezuela

Republic of Paraguay

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index105th best
Land Area 397 300km21
LocationSouth America, The Americas
Life Expectancy70.26yrs (2017)3
GNI$12 349 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesPY, PRY, 6005
Internet Domain.py6
CurrencyGuarani (PYG)7

Paraguay does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Paraguay does the second-best in its nominal commitment to Human Rights9. It does better than average for commentary in Human Rights Watch reports10, speed of uptake of HR treaties11, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms12 (but bad for The Americas) and in LGBT equality13 (but low for The Americas). Along with 11 others, Paraguay signed the Lima Declaration in 2017, condemning "the assault on democratic order and the systematic violation of human rights in Venezuela"14.

But, things still need to improve in Paraguay. Paraguay does worse than average in terms of its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice15, supporting press freedom16, opposing gender inequality17 and in freethought18. Human Rights in Paraguay are under sustained attack from Catholic lobby groups and traditionalist Christians supported by US Conservative Christians. In particular, they are succeeding in preventing women's rights, and have reversed some movements towards LGBT tolerance19.

1. Paraguay's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to The Americas (2020)20
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank20
3Costa Rica36.5
16El Salvador66.7
21Trinidad & Tobago81.4
22Dominican Rep.83.1
The Americas Avg73.9
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)20
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank20
61El Salvador66.7
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark21. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu21.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe21, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia21.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Paraguay stated:

Authorities continued to criminalize social protest. Investigations into cases of torture and other ill-treatment did not make progress. Forced evictions remained a serious problem, affecting the rights of thousands of small-scale farmers and Indigenous families. Authorities failed to take action to protect LGBTI people and human rights defenders. Sexual abuse of children and girls’ forced pregnancies remained serious concerns.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)22

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better10
37=Costa Rica1
The Americas Avg-0.8
World Avg-1.9
Paraguay ranks 36th in the world when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better9
2=Costa Rica23
The Americas Avg16.5
World Avg15.1
In terms of its nominal commitment to Human Rights, Paraguay comes 2nd-best in the world - only Argentina does better.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better11
Avg Yrs/Treaty11
72=Burkina Faso8.78
The Americas Avg8.45
World Avg10.02
In terms of speed of uptake of HR treaties, Paraguay ranks 72nd in the world.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better12
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
74=S. Africa74
74=Papua New Guinea74
79Trinidad & Tobago79
The Americas Avg72.4
World Avg79.7
When it comes to supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, Paraguay is positioned 77th in the world.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)23

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better16
89Timor-Leste (E. Timor)2872
93Northern Cyprus2934
The Americas Avg2853
World Avg3249
Paraguay ranks 90th in the world regarding supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index24

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims25
The Americas Avg0.25
World Avg0.65
Paraguay is positioned 16th-best in the world when it comes to eliminating modern slavery.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory26. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends27. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life28. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves29.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery30. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity31. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.32. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi33, Eritrea33, Indonesia34) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery35.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

Paraguay is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.

Abortion is too limited and only legal if pregnancy threatens the life of the mother19. Many cities are even more restricted than required, with church representatives standing with celebrants each time a city declares its "pro-life" stance in the name of traditional family values19.


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
107Dominican Rep.0.47
The Americas Avg0.39
World Avg0.36
Paraguay is 104th in the world regarding opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
130=Sierra Leone1961
The Americas Avg1947
World Avg1930
With regard to the year from which women could participate in democracy, Paraguay ranks 128th in the world.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
The Americas Avg29.7
World Avg36.8
Paraguay ranks 59th in the world with regard to its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews36,37,38,39. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East40, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews41,42. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"43. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males44.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
83=Central African Rep.20
83=Sao Tome & Principe20
The Americas Avg26.1
World Avg12.6
Regarding LGBT equality, Paraguay ranks 82nd in the world.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence45. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws46. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries45. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

LGBT tolerance in is going backwards. Same-sex marriage remains illegal, the awful practice of 'conversion therapy' is too common. LGBT events face violence, including murder. There is no generic law prohibiting prejudice and discrimination.19

In 2017, Paraguay became the first country in the world to ban gender issues from school lessons due to the support of conservative Christian groups based in the US, such as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). At the time of the ban, the then Minister for Education swore he would burn any books that contained so-called "gender ideology."

"The Freedom of Thought Report" by Humanists International (2021)19

A few years later, things had not improved, with homophobic paranoia ignited by religious fervour proving an immovable obstacle to progress..

In December 2020, a draft National Plan for Childhood and Adolescence 2020-2024 - which sought to address sexual abuse, issues of violence, and the need for comprehensive sexuality education - was withdrawn for redrafting following statements made by members of the Catholic Church that argued that the Plan would promote the destruction of conservative family values.

It appears that groups opposed to the Plan particularly objected to the proposals around sex education, the teaching of sexuality with a gender lens, and issues surrounding sexual reproductive health. Conservative opponents appeared concerned that the use of the term "gender" was a means to introduce the "LGBTI+ agenda."

"The Freedom of Thought Report" by Humanists International (2021)19

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Although Paraguay's constitution states that "the State is independent of religion"47, the Catholic Church is also named as a cooperative partner in Articles 24 and 8919. Conservative Catholics have great influence over politics to the extent that they damage democracy and human rights, especially women's rights and LGBT tolerance. With support of US Christian organisations, they managed ban the teaching of tolerance in schools, with the Minister for Education swearing that he would "burn any books that contained so-called gender ideology"19.

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
The Americas Avg2.7
World Avg3.0
Paraguay comes 109th in the world regarding freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights48. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish49. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era50 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted51. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief52. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands18,53 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia18,54.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed55. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief49, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion56 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"57 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

The concept of Christian family values - often called simply traditional family values, is preventing the government, and society, from properly tackling a culture that has a dark side. Even where cases of abuse are clear-cut, in a country that doesn't take liberalism seriously, power and influence can grant effective immunity.

In 2020, a court in San Lorenzo de Limpio dismissed charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexual harassment despite clear evidence, including his confession, to having groped her. The judges argued that for harassment to be proven there would have to be evidence that the priest was in a position of power over the Church´s Coordinator of its Youth Ministry, and that it was not just a one-off occurrence. The woman in question took the case to court after the archdiocese failed to investigate, instead emphasizing that the dignity of the priest must be safeguarded. In December, an appeals court overturned the ruling and ordered a new trial.

"The Freedom of Thought Report" by Humanists International (2021)19

Walking alongside is an even darker spectre:

Cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children are reportedly prevalent in Paraguay.

In December 2020, a draft National Plan for Childhood and Adolescence 2020-2024 - which sought to address sexual abuse, issues of violence, and the need for comprehensive sexuality education - was withdrawn for redrafting following statements made by members of the Catholic Church that argued that the Plan would promote the destruction of conservative family values.

It appears that groups opposed to the Plan particularly objected to the proposals around sex education, the teaching of sexuality with a gender lens, and issues surrounding sexual reproductive health. Conservative opponents appeared concerned that the use of the term "gender" was a means to introduce the "LGBTI+ agenda."

"The Freedom of Thought Report" by Humanists International (2021)19