PARAGUAY A favorite technique to intimidate the press in Paraguay has become the arraignment in criminal court of journalists who report on alleged wrongdoing or corruption of judges. This method is particulady popular among judges in Ciudad del Este, on the Brazilian border, known as a center of corruption and international smuggling. Although the accused are rarely found guilty and sentenced, the mere existence of charges is a harassment, because they must spend a great deal of time preparing their defense and in court appearances. On March 23, Criminal CourtJudge Porfirio Zacarias León of Ciudad del Este indicted journalists Hector Guerín and Osvaldo Caceres, both of ABC Color, on defamation and calumny chargtes. Two days later, outgoing Social Security Director Luciano Pereira laid similiar chages against a correspondent of the newspaper Ultima Hora, Dolly Galeano. On July 28, Criminal Court Judge Justo Salvador Reyes of Ciudad del Este, who had been photographed in possession of an automobile stolen abroad and brought in as contraband, arraigned journalists Juan Carlos Salinas of the Red Privada de Comunicación broadcast network and Hector Guerín of ABC Color on charges of "contempt and calumny." Similarly harassing the Paraguayan press are defense attorneys who, in the case of corruption allegations, pressure newsmen to reveal their sources. In one case, the defense went so far as to demand as evidence the television camera used to film an alleged illicit action. The apparent aim was to throw doubt on how the journalist had obtained his information. The most recent case ofthis type was on September 19, when the anchor ofthe television program El Ojo, Mercedes Barriocanal, was summoned to give a deposition about accusations a broadcast linking high-ranking military officers with drug trafficking. On the eve of a May 2 general strike called by the country's three main labor unions, the Union of Paraguayan Journalists issued a statement saying that it would support the strike and that it would exclusively provide pool coverage of it. Thus the union clearly intended to arrogate to itself the editorial authority of the media. It furthermore called for "favorable" reporting on the strike. Many media accepted this implicitly, but others refused to do so. In one of the most serious outrages against press freedom, on August 1 Labor Judge Marcelino Arevalos issued an injunction suspending a television program broadcast by the Red Privada de Comunicación. which planned to focus on the issue of drug trafficking. A few hours before the broadcast, a female model appealed to Judge Arevalos, and he issued his order, even without knowing what the program would contain. The restraining order was lifted two weeks later, and the program finally aired in its entirety on August 15. But the precedent had been set that aban may be issued mere hours before a planned broadcast or publication by merely appealing to whicbever magistrate happens to be sitting on the bench at the time. Paraguay's Constitution, however, prohibits all forms of prior censorship. On April 26 in Ciudad del Este, brothers Alejandro and Benjamín Esquivel, emcees of radio news and variety radio shows in that town, were ambushed as they rode in a taxi at night by a pickup truck carrying six or seven individuals, one of whom got out and shone a flashlight in tbeir faces. The taxi driver, seeing the assailant had a firearm, sped from the scene. Shots were fired, but nobody was wounded. The person involved turned out to be a sacked police officer. He was not charged. The presidency's veto of the broadcasting law, which would have eliminated government authority over operation of radio and television, was rejected by a wide majority in the Senate. Nevertheless, in the Chamber of Deputies, the veto was upheld in exchange for early submission of a definitive new broadcasting bil!. Several such proposals have already been introduced by interest groups and by the National Telecommunications Administration (ANTELCO) itself. The most important of these was submitted by specialists connected with CERNECO (the Center for Regulation, Standards and Study of Communications), which groups the media, advertising agencies and individual advertisers. This document is now the basis of parliamentary discussions. All the proposals envision creation of a national commission to take charge of regulating the nation's telecommunications. The primary objective is to relieve ANTELCO of its unilateral, unappealable government regulatory authority, because of the considerable abuses of the past in matters of control, political patronage and corruption. In Ciudad del Este, top officials of the customs and ports administration, concerned about published allegations of their involvement in wrongdoing, openly offered journalists Juan Carlos Salinas of the Red Privada de Comunicación and Hector Guerín of ABC Color weekly sums of money in return for their silence. Guerín tape-recorded tbe bribe offer. He later took the money and deposited it with his newspaper's management office. When one payment was made by check, a photo of it was published in ABC Color onAugust 19. The amounts receivedwere laterdonated to an orphanage in the border town. Discovered in their maneuver, several officials tried to portray tbe case as one of extortion and blackmail on the part of the journalists. The matter has received little judicial or government attention. Parliament is studying various proposals to reform the Penal Code and Criminal Trial Code, which have been in force since 1914. The most appealing proposal was presented by the Office of the Attorney Genera!. It was an exhaustive work, put together with the collaboration of German experts. The most significant new development in regard to the Penal Code is a restriction on the formerly uninhibited authority of a trial judge to order preventive arresto Imprisonment is now the last resort, no longer the first, in legal proceedings. Fines or public service may supplant imprisonment . The penalties for calumny are a maximum of two years or a fines for defamation, one year; and damages will be punished only by a fine. Even so, legal provisions having to do with privacy and the publication of material or conversations "not meant for the public" could still be used by those accused of corruption to avoid facing justice. AIso, a new concern has to do with "denigratingthe dead, " by which attempts are made to link previous or current investigations to the comportment of individuals accused of corruption and who die in the interim. In the Code of Procedures, new trial forms are established and preventive arrest is restricted even further. House arrest is also permitted, since the penitentiaries are packed with defendants awaiting trial. Most importantly, different judges will preside at the indictrnent hearing and at the subsequent trial. In fact, the prosecutor now has the role of pursuing the indictment proceedings, under the general authority of a judge, who no longer is involved in the details of the case. In a draft proposal submitted by the National Codification Commission, there are sorne provisions of concern to the press. One is Article 182, which refers to the dissemination of false news, inside or outside the country, "that could prejudice credit or the national interests" - which it fails to define. This could be used against the press in cases of alleged mishandling of funds by tax collection offices or government-owned banks. The newspaper Noticias also reported that top officials, reacting to accusations of corruption in government, are now in turn accusing the press of lying, misreporting and distorting the facts. Noticias also complained of discrimation in the placement of official advertising.