Report to the Midyear Meeting
April 20-23. 2021

In this period of social crisis and protests due to the lack of response by the government to the demands of the citizens in the face of the pandemic, aggressions and attacks against journalists continued in the midst of requests by the media and press associations for greater transparency in government agencies.

Following a constitutional injunction filed by journalist Juan Carlos Lezcano - from ABC Color - a judge ordered the publication of the sworn statements on assets and income of all public officials in the country since 1992 - through the comptroller's website.

In October, journalist Aníbal Gómez Caballero denounced irregularities in the handling of the libel and slander case brought against him by congressman Robert Acevedo (PLRA) - to the detriment of the defense - with the intention of setting a precedent to dissuade all journalists from Pedro Juan Caballero who criticize the congressman.

In November, a defense lawyer for former legislator Óscar González Daher asked journalist Mabel Rehnfeldt - from ABC Color - in the middle of the trial, if she knew that broadcasting leaked audios is "punishable by law." The journalist had appeared to testify as a witness during the case of the leaked audios involving the Jurado de Enjuiciamiento de Magistrados (JEM) - which in late 2017 were used to exposed the corruption scheme run from within the JEM by the then Colorado Party senator Óscar González Daher.

It was only in January that prosecutor Lolia Zunilda Martínez contacted Gustavo Galeano - a photojournalist for the newspaper La Nación - who was arrested and beaten by agents of the Ciudad del Este Naval Base in March, 2020 while attempting to cover the case.

In January, photographer Luis Enríquez - from the newspaper Última Hora - was threatened by guards who told him - for "security reasons" - to keep his distance from the construction site of the pedestrian walkway between Ñu Guasu Park and the Paraguayan Olympic Committee. The images reveal the lack of safety standards for the workers at this construction site.

In March, a Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that rejected a habeas data filed against ABC Color and Última Hora by Claudio Notoli Micheli - who sought to remove records from March, 2013 publications on events that took place at Silvio Pettirossi Airport and resulted in his arrest and the seizure of nearly 3.5 kilos of gold. The judge held that such a claim was contrary to the right to information because they were publications of events that took place - not information of a personal nature that could affect his privacy.

In March, journalist Alexis Aveiro - from Canal C9N - filed a complaint with the police after being attacked by a group of supporters of the head of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) - Efraín Alegre. Journalist Osvaldo Cazenave - from ABC Color - was also attacked.

In March, Telefuturo reported that several people have to travel to Clorinda, Argentina, in search of medicines that are lacking in the country's hospitals. Other media accused the channel of snitching on those who desperately need medicines.

In March, Judge Elio Ovelar said that he is under attack by ABC Color. The magistrate is being investigated by the Comptroller General's Office as a result of several ABC Color publications about the millionaire patrimonial growth he experienced together with his wife - prosecutor Marlene González. The judge is in charge of the libel lawsuit against the director of ABC Color, Natalia Zuccolillo, and the journalist of that newspaper, Juan Carlos Lezcano - filed in September, 2019 by the former deputy minister of Taxation, Marta González Ayala. González filed the lawsuit based on three publications from March, 2019 about a bidding and contract awarding process for the technological update of the "Marangatú" Tax Management System. The publications that motivated the lawsuit are based on public data from the General Directorate of Public Contracting of the Ministry of Finance.

The case should never have gone to trial, based on the protection granted to the press by the National Constitution, and it is quite concerning that the judicial system - subservient to the political power - allowed it to happen in an attempt to intimidate the media.

In April, the Yacyretá Binational Entity was charged with contempt of court for failing to comply with the Transparency Law, because it did not provide all the information regarding its expenditures on social investments. The claim for information was filed by a journalist of Grupo La Nación.

In April, the Society of Communicators of Paraguay requested access to information from Itaipu's Board of Directors on the position of the Paraguayan board members. In view of recent events such as the signing of the so-called Secret Act, they also requested the live transmission of the meetings of the Board of Directors on the entity's website or other accessible platform, and the preparation of reports on these meetings and press conferences, with virtual access for citizens.