Washington College of Law|
Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
RESOLUTION No. 5/84
CASE 8027 (PARAGUAY)
May 17, 1984
- In a note dated May 2, 1982, received on July 30, of that
same year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights received the
The Paraguayan writer, Augusto Roa Bastos, was deported to
the Argentine city of Clorinda on April 30, 1982, without any
judicial order providing for it.
In the afternoon of that day, four men dressed in civilian
clothing (policemen) arrived at the house of Roa Bastos to tell
him to go with them. When questioned by the press about the
expulsion of the famous author of Yo El Supremo, the police
stated that they had absolutely no knowledge of the matter and
recently, on May 2, the Minister of Interior stated that, 'Roa
Bastos was an ultra-Moscovite Bolshevik.'
The courts did not participate in these events and Roa
Bastos was deprived of the right to defense since, to this time,
the legal grounds for his exile have not been explained 'in a
- In a note dated August 11, 1982, the Commission transmitted
to the Government the pertinent parts of the petition and requested
information that it considered opportune and expressed that, in
accordance with Article 31 of the Regulations of the Commission, the
request for information did not constitute any prejudgment regarding
the admissibility of the charge.
- On August 24, 1982, the Government of Paraguay replied to
the request for information from the Commission as follows:
August Roa Bastos. Under the authority conferred to the
Executive Branch by the National Constitution (state of siege,
Article 79), he was detained on the grounds of his proselytizing
activity among youth and university groups and intellectual
groups (Marxist-Leninist proselytizing activity banned by law
in Paraguay; the Communist Party in Paraguay is proscribed by
the National Constitution which prohibits liberty from being
used to suppress liberty). Augusto Roa Bastos chose to go
abroad. He is currently in Toulouse, France.
- In a note dated September 3, 1982, the pertinent parts of
the Government's reply were transmitted to the petitioner.
- In a note dated October 8, 1982, the petitioner denied
emphatically that Mr. Roa Bastos had left the country voluntarily and
stated that, to the contrary, he (Mr. Roa Bastos) had been led
forcibly by the police to the border and then obligated to leave the
country without any choice.
- In a note dated February 22, 1983, the Paraguayan
Government replied to the observations of the petitioner by stating
that the Government of Paraguay has already released its information
on the Roa Bastos case. Along with this note, the Commission
received another of the same date, signed by the Deputy Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Francisco Barreiro Maffiodo. That note
remitted to the Commission a clipping from the newspaper, Hoy, of
that same date, February 22, 1983, which contains the text of an
interview granted to the UPI news agency by the Minister of the
Interior, Dr. Sabino Montanaro. The pertinent parts of the
aforementioned interview are as follows:
Asuncion, 21 (UPI): The Paraguayan Minister of the
Interior, Sabino Montanaro, said that political exiles, except
one whom he called 'mentally unbalanced' and another whom he
linked to communism, may return to Paraguay individually, but
not in a group.
According to Montanaro, the 'mentally unbalanced person'
is the founder of the Christian Democratic Party, Luis Resck,
and the person associated with Marxism is the well-known writer,
Augusto Roa Bastos....
He stated that the other person expelled, the writer
Augusto Roa Bastos, has ties with Soviet and Cuban elements.
His friends and his allies were Communists of Argentine,
Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and even Spain and France.
He stated that Roa Bastos 'came here and tried to give a
lecture at a high school and a university. So, before he could
indoctrinate youth to organize guerrilla wars or to rise up
against the government, we expelled him from the country'.
Montanaro stated that the other exiles may return to the
country, even those of the official Colorado Party, but they
must do so 'one by one, not in a group, to prevent a tumult and
to allow us to control their activities....'
- The Commission, noting an obvious contradiction between the
statements of the Government in its note dated August 24, 1982, and
the statements made by the Minister of the Interior, Sabino
Montanaro, in the interview granted to the UPI news agency to which
aforementioned paragraph refers, addressed the Paraguayan Government
in a note dated June 16, 1983, in the following terms:
Ref.: Cases Nos. 4563, 7848 and 8027
In its last session the IACHR took up the aforementioned
cases and found that there exists a contradiction between
statements made by Your Distinguished Government in its letters
of December 15, 1982, June 31, 1981 and August 24, 1982,
pertaining to these cases, and the statements made by the
Minister of the Interior, Mr. Sabino Augusto Montanaro, in his
declarations to the press which appeared in the newspaper Hoy
of February 22, 1983, a clipping of which was sent to the IACHR
attached to a note from the Minister of Foreign Affairs signed
by the Deputy Secretary of that portfolio, Ambassador Francisco
In effect, on one hand, in the notes referred to above, the
government maintains that Messrs. Laino, Resck and Roa Bastos
chose to leave the country after being detained for a period
under the authority of Article 79 of the National Constitution,
thus giving the impression that they did so voluntarily, and on
the other, the Minister of the Interior states to the press that
Mr. Laino was deported "for having painted political slogans on
walls in the streets, an act he considered the beginning of a
destabilization campaign against the government," that Luis
Alfonso Resck was deported because "he is a mentally unbalanced
person and an inciter to rebellion" and that the other expelled
person, the writer Roa Bastos, "has ties with Soviet and Cuban
elements and wanted to give a lecture at a high school and a
university" and that "before he could begin to indoctrinate our
youth to organize guerrilla warfare or to rise up against the
government, we expelled him from the country."
In another part of his statement, the Minister adds, "the
other exiles may return to the country, including the dissidents
of the Colorado Party."
The petitioners have denied that the aforementioned persons
left the country voluntarily. Actually, in agreement with the
statements made by the Minister of the Interior, they confirmed
that the aforementioned persons were forced to leave the country
and have been denied permission to return. They gave as an
example to case of Mr. Laino who, according to a letter whose
pertinent parts were sent to the Paraguayan Government in a note
dated April 5, 1983, attempted to return to the country on March
25, 1983, in a scheduled Aerolineas Argentinas flight but was
forced to return to the place of embarkation in the same
airplane that took him to Asuncion.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission has given me
specific instructions to request the Government of Paraguay for
information about the exact situation of Messrs. Domingo Laino,
Luis Alfonso Resck and Augusto Roa Bastos. Specifically, the
IACHR would like to know: If, as the Minister of the Interior
states, Messrs. Laino, Resck and Roa Bastos were expelled from
the country. If this is the case, the Commission would like to
have a copy of the verdict handed down by the Court that ordered
the expulsion of the aforementioned persons. If to the
contrary, this is not the case, the Commission would like to
know on the basis of what legal provision the Paraguayan
Government does not allow the aforementioned persons to enter
- To date, the Government of Paraguay has not replied to the
aforementioned letter and Mr. Augusto Roa Bastos according to
information in the possession of the Commission, remains in exile
from the country.
- The right of every person to live in his own country, to
leave it, and to return when he considers it advisable, is being
recognized by all international instruments that safeguard human
rights, among them, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties
of Man, Article 8, which reads:
Every person has the right to fix his residence within the
territory of the state of which he is a national, to move about
freely within such territory, and not to leave it except by his
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in taking
up the problem of expulsion of nationals, has pointed out:
It is cause for alarm and concern the frequency with which
the measure of expulsion of nationals is resorted to not as the
exercise of an option, as some legislations provide, but as an
act imposed upon the person by force and against which the
person has no recourse, in violation of the right of residence
and free movement established in Article 8 of the American
Declaration. (Annual Report of the IACHR, 1976, p. 18).
These expulsions, administratively decreed without any type
of legal proceedings, generally have been for an undertermined
length of time, thus increasing even more their cruelty and
irrationality, and making this sanction even more onerous than
one attached to the commission of a crime which always has a
sentence for a set period of time. (Annual Report of the IACHR,
1980-1981, p. 120).
- The declarations of the Minister of the Interior, Dr.
Sabino Montanaro, given to the UPI news agency and printed in the
edition of the newspaper Hoy of February 22, 1983, the text of which
was sent officially to the Commission by the Paraguayan Government
in a note dated February 22, signed by the Deputy Secretary of
Foreign Affairs, led to the unmistakable conclusion that Mr. August
Roa Bastos did not voluntarily leave the country but was forced to
leave his home country and remain on foreign soil against his will.
- From the same declarations made by Minister Montanaro and
the lack of a reply to the note from the Commission dated June 23,
1983, it follows that the expulsion of Mr. Augusto Roa Bastos from
the country was decreed administratively without any type of legal
proceedings and without allowing recourse to any appeal, as a means
of eliminating a political dissident whom the government considers
a threat to its internal security.
- The liberty of persons includes the liberty of remaining
in the country of which the person is a citizen and which constitutes
the center of his professional, family and social life. The
expulsion of a citizen by his government, under normal circumstances,
is totally excluded under current human rights norms.
Therefore, in view of the information related and the
considerations made, on the ground of Articles 48, 49 and 50 of its
THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS,
- To declare that the Government of Paraguay has violated
Articles VIII (right to residence and movement), XVIII (right to a
fair trial), XXV (right of protection from arbitrary arrest) and XXVI
(right to due process of law) of the American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man.
- To recommend to the Government of Paraguay: (a) That it
take the measures necessary so that Mr. Augusto Roa Bastos may return
to his home country, Paraguay, and enjoy all the rights and
guarantees that the Paraguayan constitution and its laws and
international instruments relating to human rights confer to him.
(b) That it provide for a full and impartial investigation to
determine the persons responsible for the alleged acts and impose on
them the corresponding penalty in accordance with Paraguayan law.
(c) That it report to the Commission within the term of sixty days
on the measures taken to put this recommendation into practice.
- To communicate this resolution to the Government of
- To publish this resolution in the Annual Report of the
Commission to the General Assembly of the Organization of American
States if the Government of Paraguay does not accept, within the
aforementioned term, the recommendations made.