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Paraguay Criticized Over Abductions of Children

August 17, 1988|From Reuters

GENEVA — A U.N. report accused Paraguay on Tuesday of delaying the return of Argentine children kidnaped by thugs who had tortured or murdered their parents under Argentina's military dictatorship.

The report, by Dutch human rights expert Theo van Boven, said families had reported that 208 children disappeared in Argentina between 1974 and 1981. Only 45 had been located.

Van Boven, who visited Argentina last month, said the children were treated as booty of the "dirty war" waged by the former military rulers against their domestic opponents. Nearly 9,000 people were reported to have disappeared.

The report said that a number of children now in Paraguay are still being held by their kidnapers, in some cases as a means of continued punishment for opponents of the former military administration.

"Several of the abductors managed to leave the country and are now living in Paraguay, where they have taken the children," the document said.

Paraguay 'Not Sensitive'

"The Paraguayan authorities are apparently not sensitive to these moral considerations, since they have been delaying the return of the children for a long time now."

Van Boven said it was "inadmissible and a matter of serious international concern" for a country to become a hiding place for kidnapers and abducted children.

He urged Paraguayan authorities "to take immediate measures for the return of the children to their country of origin, in view of the abundant evidence that they were illegally transferred to Paraguay."

Van Boven said Paraguay's refusal to act was tantamount to continuing the policy of Argentina's military government of singling out for punishment entire families and social groups, irrespective of their opinions. The military government yielded power to a civilian administration in 1983.

The report will be discussed at a current four-week session here of the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities which opened here last week.

Van Boven was appointed by the sub-commission last year to look into reports of children who had disappeared in Argentina and been located in Paraguay.

He said in the report that he had also planned to visit Paraguay but was told by the authorities there that this would be inopportune because cases involving the children were before the nation's Supreme Court.

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