Paraguay | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Paraguay

Paraguay

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

57

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

20

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

19

The 1992 constitution guarantees freedom of the press and prohibits censorship. Nevertheless, press freedom continues to be hampered by the harassment and intimidation of journalists, widespread corruption, repressive libel and defamation laws, and a concentrated media ownership structure. Journalists are regularly prosecuted or jailed as a result of restrictive press laws, particularly libel and defamation legislation, which has led to self-censorship. In December, the Supreme Court ordered Aldo Zuccolillo, director of the daily ABC Color, to pay a US$200,000 fine for defamation of Senator Juan Carlos Galaverna of the ruling Colorado Party, which has governed the country since 1947. The paper had published reports that linked the senator to corruption and power abuse in 1997 and 1998. Although the constitution establishes the right to access information, including data from public sources, the Congress has not yet passed a law to regulate this right. In April, a group of 23 civic organizations presented a freedom of information bill, but the Congress failed to approve any legislation. Worryingly, the House of Representatives did revive debate on a bill that would require journalists to become members of a colegio, or trade association, which violates the American Convention on Human Rights.

Along the border with Brazil, groups that control the illegal trafficking of goods, weapons, and drugs frequently harass journalists. The Paraguayan Journalists' Union reported an increase in insecurity for journalists in 2005, especially in the border areas. In August, unidentified attackers set fire to the studios of the Catholic community radio station Quebracho Poty in Puerto Casado. No one was hurt in the attack, but broadcasts were temporarily suspended. In October, Aldo Lepretti, local mayor for San Juan del Parana, entered the offices of FM San Juan, a community radio station, and attacked and threatened Nicolas Sotelo, the station's director, allegedly because of the station's critical approach to reporting. There were also several cases of threats and attacks on journalists working in the border city of Ciudad del Este.

A number of private television and radio stations exist, as do several independent newspapers. There is only one state-owned media outlet, Radio Nacional, which has a limited audience, and many independent radio stations operate without licenses, particularly in the areas bordering Brazil and Argentina. The media are free to criticize the government and regularly discuss opposition perspectives. However, media ownership is highly concentrated and heavily tied to the interlocking Colorado Party and business elite. There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was used by only 2.7 percent of the population in 2005.