Friday, April 15, 2016

The law is not compulsory until it is published

Diogenes Martinez, the Paraguayan Minister of Defense, met with the National Commission on Constitutional Matters of the Senate in order to analyze the application, in general, of the Code of Military Criminal Law. Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop and former President of Paraguay (2008-2012), who was impeached in 2012, is now a member of the Senate and the president of this National Commission. He said that the Defense Minister had placed himself at the disposition of the National Commission in order to clear up the matter of the failure to publish the military laws.

The three laws that comprise the Paraguayan Military Justice system: Laws 840 (the Organic Law of Military Tribunals), 843 (the Code of Military Criminal Law, and 844 (the Code of Military Criminal Procedure in time of war and peace), were promulgated in 1980 but never published in the Official Gazette, in violation of the Paraguayan Constitution. Article 231 of the Constitution provides that "The law is not compulsory until it has been promulgated and published." As a consequence of the failure to publish these laws the entire military justice system in Paraguay, including the judgments that the military courts have rendered, is invalid.

Lugo explained that if the Executive doesn't publish these laws, the President of the National Congress can do so. In the meantime, cases of members of the military who were prosecuted under these laws have begun to go to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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