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OAS Secretary General Raises Doubts about Respect for Legitimate Self-Defense in Impeachment that Ousted the Former President of Paraguay

  June 23, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said that the removal of the former President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, has had a great impact on the governments of the region, which were witness to a summary judgment that, although formally conforming to the law, does not appear to comply with all legal provisions of the right to self-defense.

Secretary General Insulza said that, while recognizing that Article 225 of the Constitution of Paraguay empowers the Chamber of Deputies to initiate impeachment proceedings and the Senate to act as a court, "the international community has raised doubts about compliance with the rules contained in Articles 17 and 18 of the Constitution of Paraguay and in the international treaties signed by that country, which establish the universal principles of due process and the legitimate right of every accused person to defend themselves using all procedural resources, allowing for sufficient time between the start of the trial and its conclusion."

In his analysis, the head of the OAS said that what has shocked the international community "has been the general perception about the lack of respect for due process and the right of legitimate defense." He added that this situation was taken note of on site by "the majority of the foreign ministers of the countries of UNASUR, and a special representative of the OAS Secretary General, who traveled to Asunción specifically to ensure that these rules be respected. "

The Secretary General considered that the region has been affected by this crisis situation that, however, is not unprecedented. "There have been several occasions on which in some countries, in strict conformity with the written letter of the law, democratic principles have been violated that should have universal validity," he said. He then pointed out that "what concerns us is not only the lack of respect for the law, but the fact that a favorable interpretation of the written rule has been sought to alter it in the events."

"The letter of the law can never protect the violation of principles," said the head of the OAS, reiterating his concern for the events that took place in Paraguay yesterday, Friday June 22. "Nobody wants this to become a trend that tarnishes this democratic period in our region, to which it has been so difficult to arrive," he added.

During the weekend, Insulza has held discussions with foreign ministers and ambassadors of the OAS, to delineate courses of action for the hemispheric body, in hopes of making decisions in the first days of next week.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-229/12