Report to the 76 General Assembly
October 21-23, 2020

During this period, the ties between politics and drug trafficking became evident - the consequences of which increased the risks and insecurity for journalists.

The lawsuit against the director of the newspaper ABC Color and a journalist - by a former official of the Horacio Cartes government - and the persecution against the communicator Édgar Chilavert - by the public prosecutor's office - added negative elements to the freedom of the press in the country.

On July 1, Arnaldo Martínez Prieto - former member of the court of appeals - asked the judge handling the lawsuit against ABC Color, with a claim of US$ 850,000 in compensation since 2006, to order the freezing of assets of the deceased director of ABC Color, Aldo Zuccolillo, and of the shares of the company Editorial Azeta S.A.

The judge sued Zuccolillo because he was offended by the criticism of his performance in the process in which he voted for the acquittal of Juan Carlos Wasmosy - accused of irregularities at Banco Desarrollo. Martínez Prieto filed the lawsuit on September 4, 2006, indicating that ABC had affected his reputation since 2004.

There is concern in journalistic circles that an excessive civil penalty could have a more serious effect on freedom of expression than a criminal penalty. The plaintiff's status as a public official at the time, the social relevance of the case, and the public nature of the actions require that the Judicial Branch protect and enforce the guarantees and rights to freedom of information.

In March, journalists from the border city of Pedro Juan Caballero asked for guarantees to be able to practice their profession before the members of the Inter-Institutional Roundtable of Security for Journalists - which was created after the murder of Brazilian journalist Leo Vera - in February - in that city.

Representatives of the Paraguayan Journalists' Forum, the Paraguayan Journalists' Union, the Paraguayan Association of Graphic Reporters, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Supreme Court, the Legislative Branch, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Police participated in the petition. The journalists denounced that they are constantly threatened by Brazilian criminal organizations that fight for the control of drug and arms trafficking routes in that region of the country - such as the Primer Comando da Capital (PCC) and Comando Vermelho.

In April, complaints were filed with the Public Prosecutor's Office and with the Superintendent of Justice of the Court against lawyer Víctor Mujica for threatening to kill ABC Color journalist, Victor Franco Novarecci and his family, over publications about the trial of the "coquitos de oro," - involving his defendants Camilo Soares and Alfredo Guachiré.

In May, Interpol confirmed the arrest in Brazil of Wilson Acosta Marques (48) - who had been on the run – the actual murderer of ABC Color journalist, Pablo Medina and his assistant, Antonia Almada in October 2014.

In August, a call for extradition was submitted by the government to the Brazilian justice system. To date, Acosta's extradition trial is pending - since he had presented a Brazilian identity card, and Brazil does not extradite its citizens.

The police have so far captured several suspects, all of them linked to the criminal network led by drug traffickers Sergio de Arruda Quintiliano Neto, alias Minotauro; Ederson Salinas Benítez, alias Ryguasu - both imprisoned in Brazil - and Marcio Sánchez - alias Aguacate.

In June, the Supreme Court of Justice declared public record the sworn statements of high government authorities - which were made available to the public on the website of the Comptroller's Office. The available documents cover the period from 1998 to 2017 - as requested three years ago by ABC Color journalist Juan Carlos Lezcano, with the support of lawyer Ezequiel Santagada, from the Institute of Environmental Law and Economics (IDEA).