Working towards change in Paraguay
The APT has spent a busy week in Paraguay, to support the National Preventive Mechanism in strengthening the institution and to improve its follow-up to recommendations regarding police custody and preventive detention. The APT also met with authorities, including the Ministry of Justice, held a strategy meeting with Paraguayan civil society organisations, and participated in a roundtable with representatives from the police and the Ministry of Interior.
APT’s visit to Paraguay was very timely, as half of the NPM membership (three out of six members) will be renewed at the end of 2017. During three days, we facilitated a workshop for some 20 NPM members and staff, to revise the methodology for visits to police stations and to follow-up on recommendations to authorities. In our “Pathway of Change” approach, we focus on the changes that the NPM has identified as priorities and design the appropriate strategy to achieve those changes.
The workshop was followed by a meeting between the NPM and 30 representatives from civil society organisations and academics. The objective of the meeting was to explore concrete ways for Paraguayan civil society to interact with the NPM and to assist in the implementation of its recommendations.
Lastly, the APT participated in a roundtable discussion held by the Vice Minister of Interior, together with high level police officers and the NPM, to discuss the need to ensure key detention safeguards. The implementation of registries in police detention, as recommended by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture in its 2009 report, was discussed at length. The roundtable also discussed the upcoming examination of Paraguay by the UN Committee against Torture, in July 2017. One of the positive changes highlighted was the drafting of protection protocols for children and teenagers who are detained by the police. These protocols were elaborated in 2016 but have not yet been formally adopted.