The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Paraguay to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Paraguay's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. strategy to promote democratic principles, practices, values, and human rights prioritizes institution building, anticorruption efforts, law enforcement training, and reform in the political, judicial, and economic sectors. The United States supports programs for just governance that encourage accountability, transparency, and lawfulness. The United States also undertakes activities that increase the knowledge of decision-makers, future leaders, and the general population about the United States and its commitment to the country's emergence as a prosperous, democratic partner. In developing strategic priorities, the United States consults with government institutions, international organizations, NGOs, labor unions, and other members of civil society and works closely with these groups to encourage reforms and discuss problems related to human rights and democracy.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
In August 2009 Stage II of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Country Program initiated activities that will continue into 2011. This program leads the U.S. government's efforts to reduce corruption and impunity, and to improve the rule of law in Paraguay. The program is targeted at strengthening and improving: prosecutors' investigative capacity; judicial disciplinary and internal control systems; internal control mechanisms in public administration, including in the health sector; control over foreign trade and smuggling; intellectual property rights protection; and anticorruption controls in the National Police. These initiatives are designed to improve transparency and democratic governance, and to encourage further consolidation of democratic processes.
To strengthen democratic institutions, the United States provided technical assistance to enhance transparency and accountability by implementing civil service reform in the area of human resource management. This U.S. program supports the development of a performance measurement tool and management system that allows ten public entities to measure and improve key components of their human resource systems. The United States supported a successful anticorruption initiative launched by local civil society organizations, the Ministry of Education, and the Controller General's Office. This initiative expanded awareness among citizens and public officials of the negative impact that corruption has on the public education system. Other U.S. programs give particular emphasis to increasing awareness of the negative impact of widespread problems involving sexual harassment and bribery in the workplace. For a second year in a row, a local NGO and a U.S. organization publicly presented the "Paraguayan Judge of the Year Award" to an outstanding judge. The United States works closely with the government and civil society organizations to fight trafficking in persons and raise public awareness of this issue. The United States funds projects to combat trafficking in persons and prevent child labor, including assistance and awareness campaigns in the tri-border area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil and in the brick and lime manufacturing region around Tobati. The United States also provides extensive training opportunities to Paraguayan government officials on law enforcement and human rights issues.
The U.S. Government uses public diplomacy to advance awareness about the importance of democracy and human rights through press conferences with journalists, meetings with political leaders, and exchange programs. These include Fulbright academic exchanges, Youth Ambassadors and International Visitor Leadership programs, indigenous leadership training, and English language professional development programs, as well as book donations to schools. The U.S. Government sponsored attendance of the Grassroots Democracy and Youth Activism International Visitor program and brought several speakers to Paraguay in 2009, including an investigative journalist and expert on the use of new social media web 2.0 technologies, such as Facebook and YouTube, to promote journalistic freedom.