Freedom for political prisoners on hunger strike and victims of slaughter in Marina Cué, Paraguay
The undersigned organizations reject the arrest that we qualify as arbitrary of Dolores López, Felipe Balmori, María Fani Olmedo Paredes, Juan Carlos Tillería, Arnaldo Quintana Paredes, Adalberto Castro Benítez, Lucía Agüero, Alcides Ramírez, Luis Olmedo, and Nery Urbina, in the penitentiary of Coronel Oviedo, Department of Caaguazú, from Paraguay. These people have been on hunger strike for almost 2 months, in protest at the lack of response from the authorities responsible from the so-called government of Federico Franco.
These people, who we consider political prisoners, are victims of the slaughter that occurred on June 15th in the ill-gotten lands of Marina Cué, Department of Canindeyú, which took the lives of 11 farmers and 6 policemen. In its preliminary report, the International Mission held last September from the 5th-11th, concluded that the search warrant by the prosecutor of the city of Curuguaty, José Benítez, was inappropriate and provoked a de facto eviction, that failed to comply with all applicable human rights standards, and the killing of innocent peasants who sought access to state land to guarantee their right and their families' right to food.
The ten political prisoners of Marina Cué are part of a group of 54 people who have been arbitrarily charged with seven criminal charges including murder, attempted murder, serious injury, criminal association, grave coercion, coercion and invasion. However, according to the aforementioned International Mission “there is not sufficient evidence to minimally suspect the responsibility of them in the facts attributed to them. There has even been included in the list of persons charged, some who were not even present at the scene of the conflict, based on an old list of families living in the place”.ii
The undersigned organizations oppose the appointment of Jalil Amir Rachid as the prosecutor handling the case, for the lack of objectivity and bias in his actions, which goes against the interests of the peasants imputed. According to the report of the Platform for Peasants Conflict Studies and Research (PEICC), the role of the prosecutor is questioned by the refusal to investigate the role of the prosecutor Ninfa Aguilar in the facto-eviction occurred on June 15th, the lack of property titles of the agribusiness man Blas Riquelme and his requirements to the authorities without legal foundation, the torture and arbitrary arrests to the peasants victims, the actions of the police after the shooting, among others.iii
According to the report, the prosecutor took statements from the defendants violating judicial guarantees required by the Criminal Code, when there is no translation guaranteed and by making the accused sign statements that were not read in Guaraní, not complying with the right of due process of the accused.
In accordance with the minimum standards of due process, the prosecutor mentioned should be disqualified from attending this specific case, because of a clear conflict of interest. Indeed Jalil Amir Rachid is the son of former senator and former president of the Colorado Party, Bader Rachid, intimate friend of Blas N. Riquelme, also former senator and president of the same partyiv who also was a big landlord and owner of the agro-business "Campos Morombí", beneficiary of ill-gotten lands, and also disputed with the state the land of Marina Cué. To keep the prosecutor in charge of the case in these conditions is contrary to the minimum obligations of international law, assumed by the Paraguayan State.
Marina Cué Defendants have 5 months in preventive imprisonment despite the fact that the prosecutor has not produced any evidence whatsoever that may be noted that these defendants could be "authors" of the actions. This contravenes Article 242 of the Procedural Code that establishes as a requirement for preventive detention that "there exist sufficient facts to sustain reasonably who is author or participant in an offense."
Also this violates the principle of presumption of innocence enshrined in Article 17 of the National Constitution of Paraguay. We emphasize that in this specific case, the recent amendment of Article 245 of the Criminal Procedure Code which precludes the application of home arrest does not apply, since this rule cannot be applied retroactively to the act that occurred before the reform.
In this situation the undersigned organizations express the need for the international community to express to Paraguay´s so called government, to require that the authorities comply with the right to due process, through the following measures:
• Remove Jalil Amir Rachid as the prosecutor of the Marina Cué case and ensure objectivity and impartiality in the investigation, avoiding the pressure that the political events that occurred in Paraguay in June of this could have on the investigation;
• In compliance with Article 242 of the Procedural Code and Article 17 of the National Constitution on the presumption of innocence, dictate freedom and the acquittal of the arbitrarily accused peasants; Dolores López, Felipe Balmori, María Fani Olmedo Paredes, Juan Carlos Tillería, Arnaldo Quintana Paredes, Adalberto Castro Benítez, Lucía Agüero, Alcides Ramírez, Luis Olmedo, Nery Urbina, in the Marina Cué case, therefore decoupling them definitely from the criminal proceedings against them.
• Establish, in coordination with the Ombudsman's Office in Paraguay, an International Monitoring Commission to accompany the investigation of all crimes and violations of human rights of the peasants, committed in the Marina Cué case, to ensure compliance with international human rights obligations of the Paraguayan State;
• To ensure the implementation of the right to food for the communities affected, by urgently demanding the return of the Marina Cué land to the families affected by the conflict, and the provision of a fair and adequate compensation to the families of the victims according to their actual needs.
November, 26th, 2012
CLOC/Vía Campesina Paraguay
Cátedra Unesco de Derechos Humanos, Universidad Politécnica Cataluña, España
Campaña Global por la Reforma Agraria
Radio Mundo Real (Friends of the Earth International)
Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena MNCI – Vía Campesina Argentina
CLOC/Vía Campesina Chile
Equipo de Educación Popular Pañuelos en Rebeldía
Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas – SOAW
Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad Costa Rica
Asociación Sol de Paz Pachakuti
Base Investigaciones Sociales
COECOEIBA – Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo – PIDHDD
Red Asociación de Instituciones de Promoción y Educación – AIPE
Plataforma de Alianza por la Soberanía y Seguridad Alimentaria Nutricional – Bolivia
Grain América Latina
Centro de Estudios para el Campo Mexicano – CECCAM
Red de Investigación - Acción sobre la Tierra – LRAN Internacional
Fundación Mundubat – Centroamérica
Unidad de la Fuerza Indígena Campesina – UFIC
Consejo Internacional de Tratados Indios – CITI
Friends of the Earth International (FOEI)
Amigos de la Tierra de América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC)
Sobrevivencia – Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay
REDES – Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay
NAPE – Friends of the Earth Uganda
GLOBAL 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria
NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark
NAT – Amigos de la Tierra Brasil
Friends of the Earth Australia
SOLIFONDS Fondo de Solidaridad – Suiza
El Jannat en Transición Espacio para la Sostenibilidad – España
Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas/Vía Campesina – Brasil
Plataforma Rural Alianzas por un Mundo Rural Vivo – España
Frente Nacional por la Salud de los Pueblos FNSPE – Ecuador
Solidaridad Sueca América Latina SAL
Friends of the Landless – Finlandia
Grito de los Excluidos/as Continental
i FIAN International, Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform (La Vía Campesina Central America), The Research Group of Human Rights and Sustaintability from the Cátedra Unesco of the Cataluña Politecnic University, Radio Mundo Real (Amigos de la Tierra Internacional), ANAMURI (La Vía Campesina South America). In alliance with national organizations from Paraguay members of La Vía Campesina: MCNOC, OLT, CONAMURI, MAP, MCP, and ONAI.
ii Preliminary Report of the Investigation Mission of the Marina Cué Case, September 5th-11th 2012, Paraguay, page 6.
iii Curuguaty Slaughter Report, Study and Investigation Platform of Peasant Conflicts (PEICC), page. 173-174.
iv Curuguaty Slaughter Report, Study and Investigation Platform of Peasant Conflicts (PEICC), page. 154-155.