Human Rights Council
13 June-8 July 2022
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers conducted an official visit to the Plurinational State of Bolivia from 15 to 22 February 2022. The aim of the mission was to examine the situation with regard to the administration of justice in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue.
The Special Rapporteur welcomed the openness of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to his visit and the frankness of the exchanges that took place. Bolivian society in its various forms provided invaluable cooperation in the course of the visit through its analyses, proposals and suggestions.
The judiciary is structured according to the Constitution of 2009, which established four systems of justice and gave new importance to the indigenous original campesino justice system. However, subsequent legislation limited the material scope of this system. Judicial service is very precarious because a large proportion of judges are on temporary appointments and prevailing regulations and practices undermine basic principles such as security of tenure. Access to justice can be difficult. It was also noted that the country’s longstanding tendency to interfere in the work of the judiciary has not yet been eradicated.
The judiciary is facing a huge backlog of cases in the ordinary courts and its coverage is essentially limited to urban areas. The Special Rapporteur also reported on the impact of corruption, which breeds a deep-seated lack of confidence in the administration of justice.
Victims of acts of gender-based violence, femicide and serious human rights violations that occurred during the sociopolitical crisis of 2019/20 are still awaiting justice.
A very high percentage of persons deprived of their liberty are being held pending trial, and in conditions that are very precarious. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is struggling to ensure transparent and efficient management.
The judiciary’s budget is not even 0.5 per cent of the general State budget. There is widespread criticism of the current system whereby senior justice officials and members of the Council of the Judiciary are appointed by universal suffrage.
The Special Rapporteur noted an incipient consensus among all actors in the Plurinational State of Bolivia regarding the need for progress in the modernization, reform and democratization of the system of justice and thinks that a major national agreement to strengthen the system is possible.
The Special Rapporteur made recommendations intended to support the reform efforts.