GIEI: The police and prosecutors are at the service of the government of the day

The work of the police and judiciary, especially the public prosecutor’s office, was questioned sharply in the final report of the Interdisciplinary Expert Group on Investigations (GIEI) of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR).

He points to a lack of independence in the administration of justice – a problem he describes as “structural in Bolivia” – with pressure on judges and prosecutors and outside interference in the exercise of their functions.

“The GIEI notes that the institutions of the judiciary have acted without independence in various cases examined and initiated legal proceedings with obvious intentions of political persecution research hypothesis, that is, the one that was adopted as the basis for the prison,” the report reads in Chapter 4th

He adds that not only was this action recorded in time in the GIEI under investigation, but there is also a history.

“The GIEI emphasizes that the lack of independence and the use of law enforcement for political ends are unrelated to the 2019 election crisis. The GIEI verified information indicating precedents of political persecution in previous periods and that this practice continues to this day, ”the document insists.

police officer

With regard to the police institution, the GIEI points out that it has not been able to protect the full exercise of the right to protest, nor has it adequately fulfilled its duty to avoid acts of violence, to ensure the safety of people and public order.

“The GIEI has demonstrated that the security forces have been mobilized in various situations with a lack of human resources and in the use of preventive techniques, which is why their number has been exceeded.”

He adds that “the police are identified as a force serving the government of the day, rather than a state institution serving the citizens. In addition, cases of corruption were frequently reported ”.

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Investigators argue that the events of the 2019 crisis reinforce the perspective that the police are acting under the influence of political objectives.

“Until the last days of October and the beginning of November, particularly in the cities of La Paz and Cochabamba, the police avoided interventions to curb the use of dynamite or other violent means in social protests due to alleged instructions from the High Command.” in favor of President Evo Morales, ”he states.

The GIEI recommends guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary, “this also includes ensuring that the political authorities do not decide on ongoing or initiated investigations and criminal proceedings, as well as sufficient and lasting budgetary means for the smooth functioning of the judicial organs”.

Attack on journalists and the media

Between September 1 and December 31, 2019, there were numerous cases of verbal and physical attacks on journalists. The media headquarters – newspapers, radio and television stations – were also exposed to attacks and destruction, the report says on page 334.

Most of the events took place in La Paz and Cochabamba.

“The perpetrators were the police and the armed forces as well as the demonstrators themselves, divided into those who denounced possible election fraud and those who claimed it was about to be a coup,” he says.

In the case of the police, the experts point out that there are audiovisual recordings and numerous testimonies of indiscriminate chemical repression and at least two cases of attacks with pepper spray.

On October 26th, police again suppressed the protesters, and two other journalists covering the event – Álvaro Peña from La Opinion newspaper and Daniel James, a photographer from Los Tiempos newspaper – fell due to the effects of the gases, “is called.” it in part of the report relating to the attacks in Cochabamba.

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The report includes reports of more than a dozen journalists who were attacked not only by police officers but also by civilians who took part in the protest demonstrations.

Acts of sexual and gender-based violence and reproductive violence

The report of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) also covers acts of sexual and gender-based violence, including reproductive violence, sexist slurs and threats against people detained in September and December 2019.

However, it is clarified that “these are the cases that the GIEI was able to document, which does not mean that there are no other similar cases.”

It highlights cases of women and men arrested or imprisoned during the conflicts in La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro and attacked in various ways by police and civilians.

It shows that on November 9, 2019, men who were part of the southern caravan were kidnapped and taken hostage in Vila Vila (Oruro) by civilians who beat them, insulted them, threatened to kill them and forced them to undress to lie on the floor, naked and naked and walking barefoot.

On November 6, 2019 in Sipe Sipe (Cochabamba) two men who were taking part in a march were victims of various attacks by civilians and were also stripped and filmed naked by their attackers.

In summary, it should be noted that “the gender analysis carried out in this section highlights the importance of a gender approach in documenting, investigating and following up the events from September 1st to 31st in repairing the damage caused by these events”.

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