Comités Técnicos Interinstitucionales en temas penitenciarios
Paraguay / Alternative measures to imprisonment

Paraguay signs the protocol for the constitution of two Inter-Institutional Technical Committees on penitentiary issues

03 December 2021

During a high-level event in the Palace of Justice auditorium in Asunción, the Paraguayan capital, a protocol was signed for the implementation of an Inter-Institutional Technical Committee (ITC) established to seek alternative means to deprivation of liberty and another to draw up a protocol on penitentiary intelligence. This has been possible thanks to the work in strengthening the integration between those involved in the penal chain that EL PAcCTO has undertaken in countries like Paraguay.

The aim of the event was to sign the documents that constitute the two ITCs as official collaboration mechanisms working between the different institutions of the criminal chain in order to guarantee the implementation of alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty and shared strategies for the management of prison information.  Both Committees are seen as key tools in the fight against organised crime in prisons.

The event was attended by Dr. Cecilia Pérez, Minister of Justice, Dr. Lorena Segovia, General Public Defender, Luis Arias Navarro, General Commander of the Police, the Minister of the Interior, Arnaldo Giuzzio, Dr. Sandra Quiñones, State Attorney General and the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, César Diesel.

Through these two protocols, all of these people, on behalf of their institutions and aware of the problems of the prison system in the country, increasing transnational organised crime and prison overcrowding, have undertaken to improve the system counting on the immediate help of the cooperation offered by the Programme. These protocols also provide an institutional framework for inter-institutional coordination on complex strategy issues, highlighting the importance of the Paraguayan State’s willingness to strengthen its strategy in the fight against transnational organised crime.

The aims of inter-institutional work

The implementation of the use of alternative preventive measures and the enforcing of sentences are undoubtedly a solution to the current problem of high prison overcrowding, thus easing the workload in the fight against organised crime as such measures ensure greater control over prisons.

In terms of deprivation of liberty measures, the ITC will guide and validate the proposals of related working groups, strengthening a wide range of alternative measures to adapt to different situations, increasing the number of decisions made concerning measures to be taken and raising awareness regarding decision-making among those involved in implementing these steps.

The Penitentiary Intelligence ITC aims to strengthen prison intelligence mechanisms, establishing norms for the handling and exchanging of information with others in the penal chain – essential in ensuring a multidimensional approach to criminal investigation.

Support from Europe for good practice consolidation and strategies

During the ceremony, the coordinator of the EL PAcCTO Penitentiary Systems section Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini, who took part via video, said that he was certain that the signing of the protocols represents one of the most important results of the Programme, “accompanied by colleagues from the Justice and Police section, we will continue to support the consolidation and strengthening of these ITCs in order to quickly propose concrete, integrated measures that ensure greater control over prisons and that society is more protected from the actions of organised crime”.

To close this hugely important event, the Ambassador of the European Union in Paraguay, Javier García de Viedma spoke, recognising that the signed ITCs represent substantial progress on issues such as Europe that have been strategically promoted to achieve their goals – objectives, fairer and safer societies, mainly through EL PAcCTO and other programmes that make up TEAM EUROPE. “We will continue to support the consolidation and strengthening of this important tool to combat organised crime” concluded García de Viedma.

Alternative measures to imprisonment

The implementation of alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty is possible only through effective inter-institutional coordination, the main factor that allows a modern State to face complex problems through integrated, complex public policies. Good European practices regarding inter-institutional articulation on this issue is therefore a good example to be adapted in Latin America as Paraguay is doing now, formalising its commitment by undertaking this complex exercise.

Necessary strategies for the effective fight against transnational organised crime

In Paraguay, two strategic lines were identified to strengthen the fight against organised crime – increase the application of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty to help reduce prison overcrowding, concentrating attention on the most dangerous inmates, thus avoiding “crime schools”, criminal gang recruitment and affiliation and, strengthening prison intelligence mechanisms, establishing standards for the management of prison information and the exchange of information with others involved in the criminal chain, an essential input for a multidimensional approach to criminal investigation.

The Programme has developed a range of activities in 2018 and 2019 in terms of alternative measures to prison. In particular, in 2019, the first regional conference on alternative measures to deprivation of liberty was held with other programmes, bringing together presidents of supreme courts and senior authorities in charge of compliance with custodial measures.

One of the most important deliverables has been the Catalogue of alternative measures to custodial sentences, which should serve as the basis for the definition of public policies on the issue.

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