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Paraguay[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Paraguay's current constitution was approved in 1992, after its 1990 ratification of the CRC.  It includes article 54, about the protection of the child, which gives children a constitutional right to be free from abuse, and recognizes the status of children as rights holders.  Article 137 of the Constitution also gives the hierarchy of international treaties such as the CRC, placing them below the Constitution in authority, but above normal statutory law.

 

For almost 11 years following the ratification of the CRC, Paraguay struggled to get new legislation approved specifying the rights of children and the procedures of juvenile courts.[2]  During that time, the prior code on children, the Juvenile Code, was criticized by human rights groups for not being in compliance with the CRC, including treating children “in danger” with a variety of responses that deprived them of their liberty.[3]

 

Paraguay's new legislation on children, called “Code of Childhood and Adolescence,” Law Number 1680, was promulgated into law in 2001, and is in much greater compliance with the CRC.  The code states in Article 3 that a child's opinion should be given attention for determination of the child's best interest, gives children the right to petition any official on their own behalf (Article 26), gives only parents and the child's legal guardian the right to request an appeal of a decision (Article 51), gives children legal standing to request the revocation of guardianship (Article 74), and states that in matters where the child may be taken from the home the court “shall hear” the child's opinion and evaluate that opinion according to the child's age and maturity (Article 92).  Finally the procedural rules of the court state that the child's opinion should be heard prior to making a decision (Article 167).  Nothing in the law provides an attorney to the child, or implies that it is likely that the child will have one, though mention is made of the “Juvenile Defender” who can bring about an action in court. 

 

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate a local contact to confirm our research.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

Constitutional Provisions

 

Constitución Política de 1992 Artículo 54 - DE LA PROTECCIÓN AL NIÑO[4]

La familia, la sociedad y el Estado tienen la obligación de garantizar al niño su desarrollo armónico e integral, así como el ejercicio pleno de sus derechos protegiéndolo contra el abandono, la desnutrición, la violencia, el abuso, el tráfico y la explotación. Cualquier persona puede exigir a la autoridad competente el cumplimiento de tales garantías y la sanción de los infractores.

Los derechos del niño, en caso de conflicto, tienen carácter prevaleciente.

 

Constitución Política de 1992 Artículo 137 - DE LA SUPREMACIA DE LA CONSTITUCION[5]

La ley suprema de la República es la Constitución. Esta, los tratados, convenios y acuerdos internacionales aprobados y ratificados, las leyes dictadas por el Congreso y otras disposiciones jurídicas de inferior jerarquía, sancionadas en consecuencia, integran el derecho positivo nacional en el orden de prelación enunciado.

 

International Treaty

 

Convención Sobre los Derechos del Niño[6] ratificando por Ley N° 57-90[7]

Artículo 12

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2. Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado, en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional.

 

National Laws

 

CODIGO DE LA NIÑEZ Y LA ADOLESCENCIA—Ley numero 1680[8]

 

Artículo 3°.- DEL PRINCIPIO DEL INTERES SUPERIOR.

....Para determinar el interés superior o prevaleciente se respetarán sus vínculos familiares, su educación y su origen étnico, religioso, cultural y lingüístico. Se atenderá además la opinión del mismo, el equilibrio entre sus derechos y deberes, así como su condición de persona en desarrollo.

 

Artículo 26.- DEL DERECHO DE PETICIÓN.

El niño y el adolescente tienen derecho a presentar y dirigir peticiones por sí mismos, ante cualquier entidad o funcionario público, sobre los asuntos de la competencia de éstos y a obtener respuesta oportuna.

 

Artículo 51.- DE LA REVISIÓN DE LAS DECISIONES.

Las decisiones de la Consejería Municipal por los Derechos del Niño, Niña y Adolescente (CODENI) referidas en el inciso a) del artículo anterior, podrán ser revisadas por la autoridad judicial a pedido de los padres, tutores o responsables del niño o adolescente.

 

Artículo 74.- DE LA LEGITIMACION PARA ACCIONAR.

La Defensoría de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, los familiares hasta el tercer grado de consanguinidad o los terceros que demuestren interés legítimo, podrán demandar la suspensión o pérdida de la patria potestad en los casos establecidos en este Código. El niño o adolescente podrá reclamar en tal sentido ante la autoridad competente.

            

Artículo 92.-   DE LA CONVIVENCIA FAMILIAR.  FAMILY COEXISTENCE.

El niño o adolescente tiene el derecho a la convivencia con sus padres, a menos que ella sea lesiva a su interés o conveniencia, lo cual será determinado por el Juez, conforme a derecho.

En todos los casos de conflicto, el Juez deberá oír la opinión del niño o adolescente y valorarla teniendo en cuenta su madurez y grado de desarrollo.

 

TITULO II: DEL PROCEDIMIENTO EN LA JURISDICCIÓN ESPECIALIZADA

CAPITULO I:  DEL PROCEDIMIENTO GENERAL EN LA JURISDICCIÓN DE LA NIÑEZ Y LA ADOLESCENCIA

Artículo 167.-  DEL CARÁCTER DEL PROCEDIMIENTO.

El procedimiento tendrá carácter sumario y gratuito, respetando los principios de concentración, inmediación y bilateralidad.

Podrá ser iniciado a instancia del niño o adolescente, sus padres, tutores o responsables, la Defensoría de la Niñez o Adolescencia, el Ministerio Público o quienes tengan interés legítimo. Podrá igualmente ser iniciado de oficio por el Juez.

 

El Juez, para resolver las cuestiones, escuchará previamente la opinión del niño o adolescente en función de su edad y grado de madurez.

 

CAPITULO IV DEL PROCEDIMIENTO EN CASO DE MALTRATO

Artículo 191.-  DEL PROCEDIMIENTO PARA LA ATENCIÓN DEL MALTRATO.

 

En caso de maltrato del niño o adolescente,  recibida la denuncia por el Juzgado de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, éste deberá adoptar inmediatamente las medidas cautelares de protección al niño o adolescente previstas en este Código, sin perjuicio de las acciones penales que correspondan. 

 

La medida de abrigo será la última alternativa.  

 

Translation

 

Constitutional Provisions

 

Article 54 About the Required Protection for a Child[9]
(1) Families, society, and the State have the obligation of guaranteeing a child the right to a harmonious, comprehensive development, as well as the right to fully exercise his rights by protecting him against abandonment, undernourishment, violence, abuse, trafficking, or exploitation. Anyone can demand that a competent authority comply with these guarantees and punish those who fail to comply with them.
(2) In case of conflict, the rights of the child will prevail.

 

Article 137 About the Supremacy of the Constitution
(1) The Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic. The Constitution, the international treaties, conventions, and agreements that have been approved and ratified by Congress, the laws dictated by Congress, and other related legal provisions of lesser rank make up the national legal system, in descending order of preeminence, as listed.

 

International Treaty

 

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 12[10]

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

National Laws

 

Code on Childhood and Adolescence, Law Number 1680 of 2001

 

Article 3.- ON THE PRINCIPLE OF BEST INTEREST

 

To determine the best or prevailing interest [of the child] respect will be paid to his family ties, his education, and his ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic origin.  Attention will be paid also to the opinion of the child, the equilibrium between his rights and obligations, as well as his condition as a developing person.

                                                          

Article 26.-  ON THE RIGHT TO PETITION

 

The child and adolescent have the right to petition by themselves before any public official regarding issues of their concern.  They have also the right to obtain a timely response.

 

Article 51.- ON THE REVIEW OF DECISIONS

 

The decisions adopted by the Municipal Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents indicated in Article 50, letter a) can be reviewed by the judicial authority.  This review can be requested by the parents, legal guardians, or the child or adolescent's person in charge.

Article 74.- JUDICIAL STANDING

The Juvenile Public Defender, any relative to the third degree of consanguinity, or any third party with a legitimate interest, has standing to request the suspension or loss of the parental authority in the cases previously stated.  The child or adolescent shall also have this right.

 

Article 92.-  FAMILIAR COEXISTENCE

 

The child or adolescent have the right to live with their parents, save for the case that this is harmful to their interest or coexistence.  This shall be decreed by a court of justice according to the law. 

In every case in which there is a conflict, the court shall hear the child or adolescent's opinion and will evaluate it according to their age and maturity.

 

TITLE II- ON PROCEDURE IN THE SPECIAL JURISDICTION

CHAPTER I- ON  GENERAL PROCEDURE IN THE JURISDICTION OF CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE

 

Article 167.-  ON THE CHARACTER OF THE PROCEDURE

 

The procedure shall be brief and free.  It shall respect the principles of [concentration, immediacy, and bilateralism.]

It can be initiated by the child or adolescent, their parents, their legal guardians or persons in charge, the Juvenile Defender, the Attorney General, or any person which has a legitimate interest.  The judge can also initiate the procedure.

In order to resolve the issue, the judge shall previously hear the child or adolescent's opinion according to his or her age and maturity.

 

CHAPTER IV-ON PROCEDURE IN THE CASE OF MALTREATMENT

Article 191.-  ON PROCEDURE FOR THE MATTER OF MALTREATMENT

 

In case of abuse against the child or adolescent, when the complaint is received by the Juvenile Court, the court shall immediately adopt the preventive measures indicated in this Code to protect the child or adolescent.

The shelter measure shall be the last resort.

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia (CDIA)

http://www.cdia.org.py/ 

cdia@sce.cnc.una.py

 

GLOBAL...Infancia

http://www.globalinfancia.org.py/www/index.asp

 

1997 NGO Supplemental Report to the Committee on Rights of Children on the Status of Children's Rights in Paraguay[11] , available also as .pdf Document.

March 2001, Report from the UN Commission on Rights of Children[12], available also as .pdf Document.

 

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] For example, the President rejected the code after it passed both houses of the legislature because it did not protect the rights of the unborn.  See, http://www.vidahumana.org/news/paraguay_jan01.html

[3] “Rights of the Child in Paraguay” Report by OMCT June 1, 2001. Available at: http://www.omct.org/pdf/CC/Paraguay_Web_GB.pdf ,and also as .pdf Document.

[4] Constitution, Art. 54 (1992) (Paraguay).

[5] Constitution, Art. 137 (1992) (Paraguay).

[6] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[7] Que aprueba y ratifica la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos del Niño, Ley Numero 57, 1990, available at http://www.pj.gov.py/menores/html/tomo_1/tomo1_02.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[8]  Código De La Niñez Y La Adolescencia, Ley Numero 1680, el 20 de Mayo de 2001(Paraguay), available at http://www.senado.gov.py/leyes/ (enter 1680 in search box), and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Translation from Universität Bern Institut für Öffentliches Recht International Constitutional Law database: http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/pa00000_.html#I000_.

[10] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[11] Coordinadora Por Los Derechos De La Infancia Y La Adolescencia (CDIA), Supplement to the Initial Report by Paraguay to the Committee on Rights of Children, April 1997, at www.crin.org/docs/resources/treaties/crc.15/CDIA_supplement_ngo_report.pdf.

[12] CRC/C/65/Add.12, March 15, 2001.

 

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