Annual Report: Bolivia 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Bolivia 2013

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  • In April and May, legislation was passed modifying compensation payments for victims of political violence under military governments and providing for the publication of the names of people entitled to compensation. There were concerns about the lack of transparency and unfairness of the reparation process. Of 6,200 applicants, only around 1,700 qualified as beneficiaries. Victims and relatives of human rights violations maintained months-long protests in front of the Ministry of Justice to demand greater transparency, among other things.
  • In September, the US authorities refused a request to extradite former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to Bolivia. He faced charges in connection with “Black October”, when 67 people were killed and more than 400 injured during protests in El Alto, near La Paz, in late 2003.
  • Trial proceedings connected to the 2008 Pando massacre in which 19 people, mostly peasant farmers, were killed and 53 others injured, continued but were subject to delays.
  • Hearings in the case of 39 people accused of involvement in an alleged plot in 2009 to kill President Evo Morales began in October. By the end of the year, there had been no investigations into allegations of lack of due process or into the killings of three men in 2009 in connection with the case.

Freedom of expression

In August, criminal complaints of inciting racism and discrimination were filed against two newspapers and a national news agency. The government argued that the three media outlets had misused President Evo Morales’ comments about the behaviour of people in the east of the country and portrayed him as a racist. There was concern that this was a disproportionate restriction on freedom of expression.

The Plurinational Constitutional Court ruled in September that the crime of “contempt for public officials” was unconstitutional and a violation of freedom of expression.

In October, radio journalist Fernando Vidal was seriously injured when four masked men set him alight while he was on the air in Yacuiba, near the Argentine border. Fernando Vidal had publicly criticized local officials and reported on drug trafficking in the region. Four men were arrested in connection with the attack. Investigations were continuing at the end of the year.

Women’s rights

In September, a law was passed punishing harassment and political violence against women. The law, which was welcomed by women’s organizations, establishes preventive mechanisms and provides for sanctions for acts of harassment and violence against women who are electoral candidates, elected officials or who work in public institutions.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Bolivia in March and June.
  • Open letter to the authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in the context of the dispute concerning the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) (AMR 18/002/2012)