Press Release

IACHR announces integration of Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for Bolivia

January, 23, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) for Bolivia. The GIEI is installed in compliance with the agreement signed by the IACHR and the Plurinational State of Bolivia on December 2nd, 2019 with the aim of setting up a mechanism to support the investigation of acts of violence and human rights violations occurred in that country, between September 1st and December 31th, 2019.

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.

Juan Méndez dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights. He was UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and President of the IACHR. He served as Deputy Commissioner of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). He was a member of the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission established as part of the Colombian Peace Accords. For 15 years, he worked with Human Rights Watch, on human rights issues in the Western Hemisphere. He is a professor of Human Rights Law at the Washington College of Law, American University.

Julian Burger is a visiting professor at the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex (United Kingdom). He has also taught human rights courses at institutions such as the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London and the University of Alcalá de Henares (Madrid). He directed the program on indigenous peoples and minorities in the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Geneva, for over 20 years. There, he was responsible for the negotiations of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and helped establish the main guarantee mechanism related to indigenous peoples. He has written extensively on human rights and indigenous peoples.

Marlon A. Weichert has been a Federal Prosecutor in Brazil since 1995. He currently serves as Deputy Federal Attorney for Citizen Rights. He is a specialist in transitional justice, public safety, human rights and business, and prevention of mass atrocities. He participated as an expert on transitional justice and public security in cases before the Inter-American Court and the IACHR. He was part of investigation and prosecution teams related to crimes with human rights violations during the dictatorship of Brazil, and led the program to search and identify the remains of victims of forced disappearance. He has a master’s degree in Constitutional Law. He was a researcher at the New York University School of Law’s Hauser Global Fellows Program.

Patricia Tappatá Valdez is Director of the International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights - UNESCO, based in Buenos Aires. She worked for the defense of human rights in Argentina, El Salvador, Haiti and Peru. She was Director of the Truth Commission that investigated the armed conflict in El Salvador. In addition, she coordinated various justice and democracy programs in Latin America and Africa. She was a UNDP consultant in Haiti to investigate the serious violations of rights. She was Director in charge of the relationship with civil society organizations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina. She is a member of the LLM faculty in International Human Rights of the Faculty of Law of the University of Buenos Aires.

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 GIEI has guarantees of autonomy and independence, in order to ensure the right to the truth and duly identify those responsible for human rights violations.

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.

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. 013/20