Serving and Protecting the People of Paraguay

Adriana Closs, Communications Specialist for ATLAS Paraguay

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Officers of the National Police in Paraguay were not receiving specialized training on child labor and forced labor. Yet the Paraguayan government reported identifying 299 human trafficking victims in 2020, with more than 150 of those victims exploited in forced labor and 80 percent of them child victims.

Children in Paraguay are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, often to support their families or pay off their debt. In 2016, 48.9% of children and adolescents living in rural areas were engaged in child labor in Paraguay.

In a crucial step to combat these issues, Partners' ATLAS Paraguay project (as a subawardee to Winrock International), along with other key stakeholders in the Paraguayan state's justice system and social protection agencies, provided this needed training to police officers.

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One of the officers trained was Human Rights Instructor and Paraguayan National Police Officer, Diana Ramírez. She participated in ATLAS's Training of Trainers workshop to gain the skills she needed to serve and protect the people of Paraguay.

Since she was a child, Ramírez wanted to contribute to restoring people's security and rights. She watched a TV show about medical detectives that instilled a deep sense of justice that she is still trying to uphold with her actions as a law enforcement officer.

Ramírez's first years in the police institute were intense and comprehensive but provided her with no training in human rights.

"When I was a young cadet, I had no training in human rights, much less women's rights, which is what I later came to realize is my calling," Ramírez said. "We really have a long way to go in terms of training and in terms of ethics, to do work that really protects the victims of human rights violations."

Ramírez later began working at the Higher Institute of Police Education (ISEPOL, for its acronym in Spanish), where, along with her colleagues, she formed a group of trainers in human rights that trained officers and sub-officers continuously from 2010 through 2018. Ramírez hoped that at some point these issues would be incorporated into the official curricula of the police, but this did not happen.

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To help train more officers on human rights issues, ATLAS invited Ramírez and 19 other officers from around Paraguay to the initial 15-hour workshop, “Training of Trainers of the National Police on the investigation of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking of Paraguay.”

"I participated because I was interested in learning more about human trafficking, but I learned much more," Ramírez said. "The workshops were useful for me to learn about topics I knew nothing about, such as child labor and forced labor."


The training sessions helped Ramírez incorporate these three issues that are poorly addressed at the institutional level into her teaching, both at ISEPOL and in the human rights workshops.

"In the police, we have departments against robbery and theft, cybercrime, anti-kidnapping, even human trafficking... but when it comes to child labor and forced labor, [they are not given the same priority and, in the instance of child labor, may be viewed as normal or necessary, so] the institution is not specialized," Ramírez said.

Ramírez values the ATLAS training for giving her the skills to teach both theoretically and practically about the risks and dangers of child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking in her classes.

"The ATLAS project gave me tools to improve my teaching. And from that I was able to include the topics of child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking into my classes, especially in terms of investigative planning," Ramirez said.

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The impact of the training process expands to every ISEPOL student who attends one of Diana's classes and to every officer who attends her human rights workshops.

"We police officers should represent the best of society, so to speak, because in our hands are a series of powers and faculties that can do just as much good as they can harm," Ramírez said. "I know about gender-based violence and I know the harm and trauma that can be generated around a human trafficking situation. And now, thanks to the training, I also know what situations of forced labor and child labor implies. That is why I value the trainings.”

The contribution of the ATLAS project has impacted not just officers like Ramírez, but an entire institution in charge of training the country's future police officers. Help us continue this work. To learn more about the ATLAS project, click here.