Country Listing

Paraguay Table of Contents


The Prison System

In 1988 the operation of prisons was under the General Directorate of Penal Institutions, controlled by the Ministry of Justice and Labor. According to Article 65 of the Constitution, penal institutions are required to be healthful and clean and to be dedicated to rehabilitating offenders. Economic constraints made conditions in prisons austere, however, and overcrowding was a serious problem. A report by an independent bar association in the early 1980s criticized the prison system for failing to provide treatment for convicts.

The National Penitentiary in Asunción was the country's principal correctional institution. Observers believed that the total population of the institution averaged about 2,000, including political prisoners. Another prison for adult males was the Tacumbu Penitentiary located in Villa Hayes, near Asunción.

Women and juveniles were held in separate institutions. Females were incarcerated in the Women's Correctional Institute under the supervision of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. The institution offered courses in domestic science. A correctional institute for minors was located in Emboscada, which was also near the capital. It stressed rehabilitating inmates and providing them with skills that would help them secure employment when their sentences were completed.

In addition to the penal institutions in the Central Department, each of the other departments maintained a prison or jail in its capital. Many smaller communities did not have adequate facilities even for temporary incarceration, however. A suspect receiving a sentence of more than one year usually was transferred to a national penitentiary.

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As of late 1988, no definitive studies that deal comprehensively with national security matters in contemporary Paraguay had been published. A general treatment of modern Paraguayan political life, touching on the military and its place in the national life, can be found in two works by Paul H. Lewis: Paraguay Under Stroessner and Socialism, Liberalism, and Dictatorship in Paraguay. The most complete coverage of the history and development of the armed forces is contained in the section, "Paraguay," in Adrian J. English's Armed Forces of Latin America. For developments since 1980, the reader must search through issues of the Latin American Weekly Report (London), the Latin America Report prepared by the Joint Publications Research Service, and the Daily Report: Latin America put out by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Current order-of- battle data are available in the International Institute of Strategic Studies' excellent annual, The Military Balance. The best overview of conditions of public order is contained in the section on Paraguay in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, a report submitted annually by the United States Department of State to the United States Congress. Two reports by the Americas Watch Committee--Paraguay: Latin America's Oldest Dictatorship Under Pressure and Rule by Fear: Paraguay After Thirty Years Under Stroessner--also provide data on the treatment of political and security offenses under the criminal justice system as well as the government's observance of human rights. (For further information and complete citations, see

Data as of December 1988