Bolivia: IACHR calls on the State to guarantee judicial elections

September 26, 2023

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Washington, D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses concern about the challenges arising in the election processes for the Supreme Court of Justice, the Plurinational Constitutional Court, the Agro-environmental Court, and the Council of the Judiciary in Bolivia. These challenges have the potential to undermine the effective functioning of the Bolivian justice system. In this context, IACHR urges the State, particularly the Plurinational Legislative Assembly (ALP), to take effective measures to ensure the independence of the branches of government and the proper operation of the justice system in compliance with Inter-American standards.
According to the Political Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the election of high authorities of the justice system is based on universal suffrage. As per the established schedule, this election should take place in 2023, with the elected individuals assuming office in January 2024. However, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has announced the impossibility of holding the electoral process in 2023 due to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly (ALP) not finalizing the pre-selection of candidates and providing the required lists to the TSE for organizing the elections. The State has reported that constitutional suits have been filed to ensure the proper development of the electoral process.

Furthermore, IACHR observes that the process of pre-selecting candidates, overseen by the ALP, has been characterized by a lack of consensus among the various political parties responsible for approving the regulations and the call to elections, as stipulated by national regulations. Although the Senate passed a bill on August 30, which reflects political consensus and could expedite the elections, there has been no session scheduled in the Chamber of Deputies for the review and final approval of this bill. Additionally, civil society organizations and representatives from various political forces have urged for a prioritized attention to this bill to ensure the successful execution of the electoral process.

The Inter-American Commission emphasizes that, in accordance with Inter-American standards, the processes for appointing and selecting judges are crucial to ensure the independence, impartiality, and effectiveness of judicial bodies. These procedures should adhere to fundamental requirements, such as the prior dissemination of announcements, deadlines, and procedures; the guarantee of equal and inclusive access for all candidates; qualification based on merit and professional skills; as well as participation of civil society for effective social control. Furthermore, it is imperative that these processes remain free of political influence and any type of discrimination, in order to generate public confidence in State institutions.

The IACHR urges the Plurinational State of Bolivia, especially the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, to generate consensus, approve the respective call and regulations, to advance and conclude in a timely manner the process of selecting the authorities of the aforementioned justice institutions, in compliance with international standards and with guarantees of transparency and independence. Finally, it recalls that the separation and independence of public powers is an essential element for the strengthening of representative democracy.

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. 223/23

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