Amparo Constitucional promovido por el Abog. Marcos Peroni Clifton bajo patrocinio del Aog. Guillermo Peroni, en representación de Philip Morris Paraguay S.A.

Corte Suprema [Supreme Court], Sala Constitucional, 18 octubre 2010, Sentencia No. 776 (2010)(Para.).
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Country: Paraguay
Region: Americas
Year: 2010
Court: Supreme Court of Paraguay (Constitutional Chamber)
Health Topics: Controlled substances, Environmental health, Tobacco
Human Rights: Right to health
Tags: Advertising, Awareness, Health data, Smoking, Tobacco control, Tobacco regulation

Petitioner, the Paraguayan subsidiary of Philip Morris, filed a Writ of Amparo challenging the constitutionality of two administrative decrees (i.e., regulations emanated from the Executive Branch) that regulated and implemented Articles 8 and 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and thus provided for stronger warning/labeling requirements than those of the law in effect at the time in Paraguay. In their submission, petitioner claimed the decrees had been issued in violation of several constitutional provisions, prominently, those providing for separation of powers, enterprise freedom, free circulation of goods and supremacy of the Constitution.

Recalling previous decisions, the Court held that, even though the FCTC had become legally binding to Paraguay upon its ratification and entering into force, the provisions contained therein were of "programatic" nature (i.e., not “self-enforcing”) and that they thus needed further statutory regulation in order to produce any legal effect in Paraguay. The Court made it explicit that such regulations had to be adopted by the Congress -and by the Congress alone-, in the sense that no other branch could adopt what, in its view, fell under the exclusive competence of the Parliament. Accordingly, the Court held both administrative decrees were unconstitutional, as they had been issued by the executive branch in violation of the separation of powers.

"Es así que considero, que de la lectura de las disposiciones mencionadas, el Poder Ejecutivo se ha arrogado facultades sobrepasando los límites establecidos en la normativa vigente, dictando un decreto que establece cargas, obligaciones y restricciones no permitidas en la Constitución Nacional, ni en la ley que ratifica el Convenio Marco de la Organización Mundial de la Salud, ni en el Código Sanitario. Si bien el Código Sanitario establece la obligatoriedad de colocar en forma clara y visible la advertencia que pueden ser nocivos para la salud de ninguna manera se podría afirmar y mucho menos imponer colocar en las etiquetas imágenes tan impactantes y advertencias tan graves como “fumar causa cáncer de pulmón, enfisema y crisis de asma” “fumar produce infarto cerebral” “fumar causa impotencia sexual” y “fumar causa infarto cardíaco e hipertensión arterial”, sobrepasando los parámetros establecidos en la ley excediendo los limites de competencia y significado del objeto de la palabra “advertencia” permitidos." Para. 9.

"Therefore, I believe from the reading of the mentioned provisions, that the Executive Power has assumed powers exceeding the limits set forth in the current law, issuing a decree that establishes burdens, obligations and restrictions not permitted by the National Constitution, nor in the law that ratifies the Framework Agreement of the World Health Organization, nor the Health Code. Although the Health Code Translation provided by the Lawyers Collective (New Delhi, India) and partners for the Global Health and Human Rights Database sets forth the obligation of placing in a clear and visible way the warning that they can be harmful to the health in no way can you affirm, and much less impose, placing on the packages images so shocking and warnings to grave such as “smoking causes stroke” “smoking causes sexual impotence” and “smoking causes cheart attack and blood hypertension”, exceeding the parameters set forth in the law, exceeding the limits of competence and meaning of the purpose of the word “warning” allowed." Para. 9.

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