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Paraguay: The Penal Code
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Public Order and Internal Security > The Criminal Justice System > The Penal Code


During the colonial period, criminal justice was administered in courts in what is now Paraguay according to provisions in several codes developed by the Spanish. Appeal in specific cases was referred to higher tribunals in the mother country. Many of those laws continued to be applied during the period following independence, except when Paraguayan rulers arbitrarily applied their own self-made law. In 1883 the nation adopted the Argentine penal code. This was replaced by a national code drawn up by Paraguayan jurists in 1890. This code was rewritten in 1910, and the new code proclaimed in 1914. The 1914 Penal Code, as amended, was still in force as of 1988.

The code is set forth in two books, each of which has two sections. The first section of Book I gives general provisions defining the application of the law and criminal liability, addressing such issues as mitigating circumstances, insanity, and multiple crimes. According to the code, active-duty members of the armed forces come under the jurisdiction of the Military Penal Code, as do perpetrators of purely military offenses. Section 2 of Book I establishes punishments and provides for the cancellation of legal actions and the exercise of prosecution functions. The death sentence was abolished in 1967, and the punishments provided for are imprisonment, jailing, exile, suspension fines, and disqualification. Jailing, which like imprisonment can entail involuntary labor, is served by those persons convicted of less serious crimes in special institutions distinct from prisons, which house those convicted of serious crimes that draw long-term sentences. Disqualification can entail loss of public office or loss of public rights, including suffrage and pension benefits.

The first half of Book II of the code comprises a sixteenchapter section that groups offenses into broad categories, defines specific types of violations, and sets penalties for each type. The major categories include crimes against the state, against public order and public authority, and against persons and property. The second half of Book II sets forth misdemeanor offenses and their punishments.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Paraguay was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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