WPFD - Case of Paulo López

Paulo López, journalist of the Paraguayan newspaper “Periódico E’a”, was the victim of unfair treatment and personal attacks which are outraging for the profession in the country.

On 3 January 2014, López went to the third police-station in Asunción with a view to reporting on people detained during a public demonstration against the rise of public transport fares.

After engaging in stalling tactics, the police assaulted physically Paulo López who was actually beaten up. He then took pictures of those who attempted to intimidate him. The police officer Edgar Galeano then ordered that he be arrested. He was thrown to the floor and his working instruments were taken away (diary and camera). A group of lawyers and the National Mechanism for Torture Prevention managed to have him released on the next day and the journalist denounced immediately the unfair treatment, i.e. on 4 January.

The National Mechanism for Torture Prevention drew up a report in which it described how he had been detained and concluded that there had been “tortures, deprivation of freedom, deprivation of ownership, threats and persecution of an innocent person”. The report was submitted to the Unit specialized in Punishable Acts and Human Rights Offences but the criminal procedure has not been initiated yet.

In December, when he returned to the country from a master course in journalism in Argentina, López was arrested at the border and placed in custody following the issuance of a warrant (which had not been notified to him or his lawyer) by the prosecutor Emilio Fúster. In September, the police staff of the third police-station had charged him to have entered into the police-station without showing his identity card. López denied the charges against him and claimed that he submitted his credential to the custodial staff. He was also accused of assaulting physically the assistant of the police officer, Marcelo Martínez. Such charges were approved by the Unit specialised in Punishable Acts, Security and Cohabitation of Persons. Paulo López was eventually charged of contempt for authority.

The Paraguayan Union of Journalists (SPP) and the International Federation of Journalists demand that the charges be dismissed considering that the unfair treatment has been twofold, i.e. there has not been a proper investigation and an appropriate reparation of the institutional acts of violence on 3 January.