GIEI: In 2019 there were massacres, racist violence and shortcomings to ensure the independence of the judiciary

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI-Bolivia) presented its report on human rights violations in 2019 on Tuesday and concluded that there were massacres and racist violence in Sacaba and Senkata that must be sanctioned. Deficiencies in ensuring judicial independence in the country were also identified.

“However, the GIEI does not hesitate to classify the events of Sacaba and Senkata as a massacre. It is important that the victims receive justice and reparation for the harm they have suffered and that they receive immediate attention, ”said the Argentinean Patricia in the presentation. Tapattá, a member of the group responsible for presenting the conclusions.

The GIEI analyzed the human rights violations from September 1, 2019 to December 31, a period during which there were at least 37 deaths as part of the electoral conflict in the country.

Tapattá pointed out that in addition to the dead, “hundreds suffered significant physical and psychological injuries” and that the state and the individual are responsible for what happened.

“The police and the armed forces, individually or in joint operations, used excessive and disproportionate violence and did not adequately prevent acts of violence, leaving the citizens defenseless. For their part, individuals promoted and committed acts of violence and attacks on public property, ”he said.

The expert made it clear, however, that “in order to be able to heal wounds, one has to recognize that there are people on both sides of the political spectrum” and that “a process of reorganizing the social fabric is inconceivable without first giving up the idea that the victims are those of our political identity “.

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Racist violence

The GIEI member pointed out that the protests and blockades were not unexpected, but preceded by antagonistic speeches by recognized leaders and political decisions and actions that undermined the credibility of the institutions and ignored essential agreements for the exercise of democracy.

He pointed out that at the time, “ethnic identity was used as a criterion indicating whether or not to belong to Bolivian society, political adhesions were dangerously racialized and, in transcendent moments of Bolivian life, attempted as a factor of exclusion from institutional spaces.” to be used “. .

He added that in this context “racist violence against indigenous peoples, including indigenous women who were particularly attacked at the time, must be recognized and those responsible punished.”

The GIEI’s first recommendation in this regard is to hold a National Summit on Racism and Discrimination to “promote spaces for consensus and dialogue and work on a common destiny in diversity.

He added that “the patriarchal order must be denatured because it implies not only the hierarchy between men and women, but also between indigenous and non-indigenous people.”

Political and social leaders were also advised “not to use the issue of racism, religious and gender options to generate hate speech”.

Judicial and security forces

The GIEI found that “judicial and security forces lagged behind in the process of change”. Tapattá pointed out that “the citizens do not trust them, they perceive them as hostile, far removed from their realities and interests, and reproduce discrimination.”

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He also noted: “The existence of serious shortcomings in the Bolivian state to guarantee and respect the independence and autonomy of the judiciary and the public ministry, as well as weaknesses in the ability of these institutions to ensure due diligence and due process.”

He recommended ensuring the independence of the judiciary through changes in the appointment system and the professional stability of judges and prosecutors, who should be selected through public tenders, transparent procedures and objective merit criteria outside of party sympathies.

He pointed out that this also includes political authorities who avoid decisions about ongoing or initiated investigations and criminal proceedings.

He also stated that the habitual and almost pre-determined application of preventive detention should be restricted and that the rights of those deprived of liberty in the prison system should be addressed with the utmost urgency in order to eradicate the abusive practices that have prevailed throughout Characterize the penal system.

For the police and the armed forces, the GIEI recommended that they be “two institutions subject to civil authority and internal and external controls, with rules of transparency and accountability”.

The Argentine expert also called for the report “to be understood not as a photo of a violent but short period of time that has already passed, but as a new, now higher and more demanding threshold of the unbearable”.

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