Press Release

IACHR Creates an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts to Support Investigations into Recent Violence and Human Rights Violations in Bolivia, and Announces an On-Site Visit to the Country

December 18, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Plurinational State of Bolivia signed an agreement on December 12, 2019 to create a mechanism to support investigations into the acts of violence and human rights violations that have happened in Bolivia over the period September 1–December 31, 2019.

In a note issued on December 10, the Plurinational State of Bolivia expressed its willingness for an international investigation to look into the acts of violence and human rights violations that have happened in Bolivia during the ongoing crisis, and to establish who is responsible for them. In response to that message, the IACHR presented to the Bolivian government a proposal to create an international mechanism to investigate the violence in the country, specifically through the creation of an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI, by its Spanish acronym) that is autonomous and independent and can protect the right to truth and adequately identify anyone responsible for human rights violations. This proposal was drafted in response to the recommendation issued by the IACHR in the Preliminary Observations of its visit to Bolivia on November 22–25.

The GIEI for Bolivia will bring together four high-level technical professionals with abundant experience in the protection of human rights, and these experts are to be appointed by the IACHR. The GIEI will have its own technical team, with the following responsibilities: planning the investigation of acts of violence perpetrated against individuals, organizations, and authorities in Bolivia, in the context of socio-political tensions, protests, and social unrest in the country; conducting a technical analysis of the lines of investigation that have been developed, issuing any relevant recommendations, and assisting investigations to ensure they are adequate, comprehensive, and aligned with the applicable international human rights standards; proposing the adoption of measures to ensure the safety of all the people involved in these investigations; and conducting a technical analysis—with any relevant recommendations—toward a Comprehensive Assistance Plan for Victims of these events.

The State of Bolivia will grant these experts full access to the records of all criminal investigations and cases opened in this context, to public government reports on these events, and to all facilities, infrastructure, resources, and means necessary for the GIEI to do its job, as well as all security measures needed, in keeping with Bolivia’s legislation.

The GIEI will have a six-month mandate that may be extended for as long as both parties agree it needs to be to fulfil its tasks. The Group will inform the State of Bolivia—through the latter’s Foreign Ministry—of the partial and final results of its efforts and will issue any recommendations necessary, as well as a public final report once its work is done. The IACHR will monitor the GIEI’s efforts and recommendations.

For the IACHR, this agreement with the Plurinational State of Bolivia is a major step to protect the right to truth and justice of victims and their families, as well as to enable comprehensive and timely reparations, in keeping with International Human Rights Law. It will also enable efforts to monitor compliance with the recommendations issued by the IACHR in the Preliminary Observations on its visit to Bolivia.

The IACHR has received from the Bolivian government an invitation to conduct an in loco visit to observe the situation of human rights in the country, in compliance with recommendation 16 held in the Preliminary Observations on the Commission’s visit of November 2019. That on-site visit is set to take place during 2020 and will enable the Commission to conduct a profound, comprehensive analysis of the Bolivian people’s current effective enjoyment of human rights in various areas of life in the country, along cross-sectional axes for observation agreed with the State with broad frameworks in terms of time and material aspects. The IACHR is grateful for this invitation and accepts it, and it has started planning the visit with the Bolivian government.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 328/19