Paraguay: setting a precedent in OPCAT implementation

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On 28 December 2012 Paraguay designated the first members of the new National Commission on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – six permanent and three substitutes, moving forward in the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The selection of the commissioners, as well as the process that led to the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture in Paraguay (Mecanismo Nacional de Prevención Contra la Tortura y Otros Tratos o Penas Crueles, Inhumanos o Degradantes), is considered as a good practice worldwide, in particular due to the open, transparent and inclusive process. The selecting process involved a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society, following the guidance from the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and in compliance with the specific provisions of the law N° 4288/2011, establishing the National Mechanism.

A plural selecting body was appointed in August 2012, composed of representatives from civil society organizations accredited to the Human Rights Commission of the Senate, and representatives from the legislative, executive and judicial power. An NPM webpage within the Senate website has also been created, providing all the information required to apply for the National Commission on the Prevention of Torture. The commissioners’ selection process was carried out through public hearings, following published criteria.

According to its establishing law, the Mechanism consists of the National Commission against Torture, Escabinos (citizens), Officials (civil servants) and civil society organizations, with both operational and financial independence. It has been described as an innovative mechanism as, within its faculties, it can draw on the expertise of external members, including from civil society, to undertake joint missions and take part in decision-making processes. It is also allowed to call ethical-political trials.

National Commission’s permanent members: Stella Cacace, Roque Orrego, Carlos Portillo, Jorge Rolón, Diana Vargas and Soledad Villagra.

Substitutes: María Flores, María Peralta and Federico Tatter. For further information, please refer to the OPCAT Database and Paraguay country file.