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Paraguay: Visit to detained farmers

22-12-2004 News Release No. 04/148

From 6 to 20 December, a team of ICRC delegates visited all farmers held in prisons and police stations in connection with the worsening land crisis in Paraguay.

The team, which traveled to various parts of the country, included a doctor. 

During the visits, which were held in accordance with the ICRC's customary procedures, the delegates talked privately with 621 farmers, most of whom had been arrested by the police and military forces during their eviction from land they were occupying. The delegates also examined the facilities in the places of detention visited.

The detained farmers received ICRC emergency relief consisting of hygiene items, cleaning products, kitchen utensils and basic medical care. Mattresses were also distributed in one place of detention. In addition, with the consent of the detaining authorities, the ICRC set up a mobile phone centre to facilitate contact between the farmers and their families.

At the end of the visits, the ICRC met with senior national authorities and submitted to representatives of the Ministries of the Interior and Justice and the chiefs of staff of the armed and police forces a summary of its findings regarding the conditions of detention and the eviction operations. It also held meetings with leaders of farmers organizations to discuss humanitarian issues.

The Paraguayan Red Cross headquarters and its branch offices in the areas visited provided logistics for the ICRC's activities, which took place in accordance with an agreement signed between the Paraguayan government and the ICRC in 2001. In mid-November 2004, the ICRC had already visited 61 people detained in relation with the land crisis.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Paola Chorna, ICRC, Buenos Aires, tel.: ++5411 4515 1118  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC, Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 2458