Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Paraguay (2016)
In 2016, the Government accepted recommendations to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings made during the Universal Periodic Review of Paraguay. The Government also referred to the Good Treatment of Children and Adolescents Bill which was under discussion and would prohibit all corporal punishment of children. The Bill had been introduced in August 2014 and was scrutinised and passed by six parliamentary committees (Human Rights; Public Health; Education, Culture and Religion; Constitutional Affairs; Legislation and Codification, and Social and Gender Equality). Following brief consideration in the plenary in the House of origin, the Bill was returned to the Committees for further analysis.
Law reform was achieved on 17 August 2016 when the Chamber of Deputies approved the Law on "Promotion of Good Treatment, Positive Parenting and Protection of Children and Adolescents against Corporal Punishment or Any Type of Violence as a Method of Correction or Discipline". The new Law was enacted by the Executive on 2 September 2016.
The new Law explicitly confirms children’s right to be protected from corporal punishment (unofficial translation):
Article 1. On the right of children and adolescents to good treatment and the prohibition of physical punishment or humiliating treatment.
All children and adolescents have the right to good treatment and for their physical, psychological and emotional integrity to be respected. This right includes the protection of their image, their identity, their autonomy, their thoughts, their feelings, their dignity and their values.
Corporal punishment and humiliating treatment of children and adolescents is prohibited as a form of correction or discipline, especially when it is imparted by parents, tutors, guardians or anyone responsible for their education, care, guidance, or treatment of any kind.
Children and adolescents are especially entitled to receive guidance, education, care and discipline by implementing guidelines for positive parenting.
It puts an emphasis on prevention of corporal punishment and measures to ensure implementation of the Law (unofficial translation):
Article 5. On the prevention of corporal punishment and humiliating treatment.
State institutions that implement policies, plans and programmes on health, education, culture, recreation, protection, employment and security related to children or adolescents must provide resources to:
a) Develop and implement programs of educational and counseling actions, positive parenting guidance and good treatment promoting, aimed at parents and other adults responsible for the upbringing, education, care or protection of children and adolescents, taking into account particularly vulnerable conditions such as socioeconomic status, age, gender identity, disability, ethnicity, culture, among others.
b) Train government officials working in association with childhood and adolescence to promote good treatment and prevention of corporal punishment, cruel or humiliating treatment, as well as in the protection mechanisms in case of violation of rights.
c) Develop and implement regulations and mechanisms to encourage reporting, investigation and correction of acts that violate the provisions of this Act.
d) Articulate policies, plans and programs to encourage the eradication of the factors that facilitate the use of corporal punishment and humiliating treatment as a form of discipline for the education of children and adolescents.
e) Ensure the existence and availability of integrated counseling and affordable, sustainable and quality care.
f) Promote patterns of positive parenting, good treatment and guarantee the full exercise of the rights of the child or adolescent at all levels and public agencies.
g) Promote the right of children and adolescents to good treatment at the national, departmental and municipal level, through the National Council for Children and Adolescents, and the Departmental and Municipal Councils for Children and Adolescents, respectively through the joint actions and resources to this end.
It also requires the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide and allocate the necessary means and resources to effectively implement prohibition of corporal punishment in the formal and non-formal education field (article 6) and, together with the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, to establish accessible complaints mechanisms (article 8).
Prior to this reform, corporal punishment was prohibited in shelter homes, in penal institutions and as a sentence for crime in Paraguay, but it was not explicitly prohibited in the home, other alternative care settings, day care and schools.
The enactment of full prohibition in 2016 makes Paraguay the 10th state in Latin America to achieve this fundamental reform for children. It is the 50th state worldwide to do so.
- Global Initiative country report for Paraguay
- Ley No. 5659 de Promoción del Buen Trato, Crianza Positiva y de Protección a Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes Contra el Castigo Físico o Cualquier Tipo de Violencia Como Método de Corrección o Disciplina (Spanish) (English translation coming soon)