January 20, 2023, 4:00 AM
January 20, 2023, 4:00 AM
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights once again recognized failures in the Bolivian judicial system that violate the rights of citizens. Sentence Series C 475, issued on November 18, 2022, but recently published, holds Bolivia responsible for the violation of children’s rights in a case that dates back to 2002.
The victim, identified as BDAL, and his family have persisted for more than 20 years until hearing a sentence that recognizes the facts and does justice. The IACHR considers the repeated sexual abuse and rape she suffered by EGA between the end of 2001 and the beginning of 2002 to be proven. The aggressor took advantage of their status as a family member, they were cousins, to intimidate the minor and keep the systematic harassment silent.
During this time, as stated in the official IACHR document, the family has faced a justice marked by “inefficiency, indifference and obstacles to access to justice”. Moreover, it establishes that Bolivian justice maintains “discriminatory” behaviors towards the victims.
It acknowledges that the State “failed to comply with the duty to investigate with due diligence” the allegations of rape made by a minor under 16 years of age (the age she was at that time). He also questions the inappropriate behavior of officials dependents of the Public Ministry who revictimized on several occasions to the victim. Currently, the case remains in impunity due to “failures in the investigation and prosecution.”
Among the operative points included in the judgment, the IACHR requires Bolivia to “adapt its legal system internal” to duly guarantee the rights of victims of sexual crimes.
It also demands “the necessary measures” to identify the officials involved in the “commission of acts of revictimization and eventual procedural irregularities” in order to establish their responsibilities. Finally, it asks the State to implement educational campaigns on the rights of children and adolescents both internally and in the national training system.
After knowing the sentence, Justice Minister Iván Lima, was pronounced through a short tweet. In principle, he minimizes the scope of the sentence and asks to “read it to give an opinion.” In the same message, he collects part of the determinations and anticipates that The State will establish “criteria to classify the crime of rape and repeal the crime of rape”, as provided by the IACHR.
César Muñoz, associate director for Latin America at Human Rights Watch, is more critical when interpreting the sentence. In it, he points out, “enormous failures in justice that result in violations of the human rights of girls and women” are recognized.
The case of the minor BDAL reveals the “mistreatment and lack of comprehensive attention” with which justice moves Bolivian. From the IACHR it is evident that Bolivia “did not apply international standards on sexual violence.” It’s more. they point to an inadequate classification of the criminal types of rape and rape in Bolivian legislation that “are incompatible with human rights treaties,” explains Muñoz.
From Human Right Watch they consider that the recovery of trust in justice requires “an urgent comprehensive reform of justice in the country.