After six decades of brutal dictatorship and one-party rule, Paraguay enjoyed a brief flirtation with democracy. This came to an end on June 21 when President Fernando Lugo was impeached by the lower house of the legislature and convicted the next day in a five-hour trial, after the Senate rejected his request for an 18-day delay to prepare his defense.
There’s nothing in the constitution of Paraguay that says that a president, like a common criminal, is entitled to adequate time and resources to prepare his defense. But this is an elementary principle derived from international law, which is binding on all countries that call themselves democracies and whose constitutions respect human rights and international law, as is the case with Paraguay.
To say, with the new rulers of Paraguay, that everything was done “in accordance with the constitution,” is to make a mockery of that constitution.
Peter Weiss, Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York