Paraguay | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Paraguay

Paraguay

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

56

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

21

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

18

The Colorado Party has for the past 57 years governed Paraguay, ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt country in Latin America. Press freedom is hampered by the harassment and intimidation of journalists, corruption in the justice system as it relates to libel and defamation laws, and a concentrated media ownership structure, much of it with close ties to government and business elites. The constitution provides for freedom of expression and the press; however, defamation and libel laws are enforced irregularly, with plantiffs often receiving a favorable ruling if they agree to share the settlement with the judge. In September, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that a criminal defamation conviction in Paraguay against former presidential candidate Ricardo Canese (imprisoned without trial in 1992 after losing a libel suit brought by Juan Carlos Wasmosy, the man who defeated him for the presidency that year) violated international law because it was "an excessive limitation in a democratic society." Vague and potentially restrictive laws mandating "responsible" behavior from journalists and media owners continue to threaten free expression. There also exists a tendency to conceal public information, as evidenced by the passage of a law that did not include an article guaranteeing public access to sworn statements by officials about their assets.

  In 2004, the Inter-American Press Association noted that "the status of press freedom was marked by several attempts by government officials to interfere with the free practice of journalism, either by resorting directly to force or by using court rulings and legislation." Journalists investigating corruption or covering strikes and protests are often the victims of intimidation or violent attack by security forces, including torture and even death threats from politicians in the presence of legal authorities. On April 21, radio reporter Samuel Roman was shot dead by two men riding on a motorcycle in the Paraguayan border town of Capitan Bado. Several cases of journalists having been murdered remain unsolved.

A number of private television and radio stations exist, as do several independent newspapers. However, media ownership is highly concentrated and heavily tied to the interlocking Colorado and business elite. There is only one state-owned media outlet, Radio Nacional, which has a limited audience.