Press Release

IACHR presents case on Bolivia before the I/A Court

October 23, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) Case 12.709, Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, regarding Bolivia.

The case relates to the international responsibility of the State for the forced disappearance of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, leader of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Revolutionary Workers’ Party) and national representative in the Legislature, and the impunity in which these facts remain. His disappearance began in the context of the July 1980 coup d'état by military forces.

The Commission determined that although processes were carried out that ended up in convictions, to date there has not been complete clarification of what happened to the victim, including the whereabouts of his mortal remains, as a result of multiple cover-up mechanisms.

The IACHR pointed out that the existence of evidence regarding the death of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal does not modify the legal classification of forced disappearance, since 38 years after his disappearance, his relatives do not have information or access to the mortal remains in order to be certain of his fate. In addition, the IACHR determined that neither the trial of responsibilities carried out in 1993, nor the conviction handed down in 2007, have been effective remedies for clarifying the truth about what happened to the victim. In the Merits Report, the Commission recommended that Bolivia fully, impartially, and effectively investigate the whereabouts of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, and adopt the necessary measures to identify and deliver the mortal remains to his family, according to their wishes. The IACHR requested that the internal procedures related to the human rights violations declared in the Merits Report be carried out impartially, effectively, and within a reasonable period of time, in order to fully clarify the facts, identify all those responsible, and impose the appropriate sanctions.

The Commission also recommended that Bolivia provide adequate reparation for the human rights violations declared in the Merits Report, both materially and morally, including fair compensation. The State should also adopt measures of satisfaction for the recovery of the historical memory of the life and role of Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal as social and political leader. Measures of satisfaction should include a public act of recognition of responsibility, as well as physical and mental health care measures necessary for the rehabilitation of family members declared victims in a concerted manner.

Finally, the IACHR recommended that Bolivia comply with its obligations regarding access to information in State archives, including military archives, related to the serious human rights violations committed during the dictatorship of Luis García Meza. In particular, it should adopt policies aimed at obtaining, producing, analyzing, reconstructing, organizing, and facilitating the information contained in these archives that is necessary to know the truth about what happened in this case, guaranteeing direct access by the family members of Flores Bedregal and society as a whole. In addition, it should adopt the necessary non-repetition measures to prevent similar events in the future, including effective mechanisms for the search for and identification of mortal remains of persons who disappeared during the military dictatorships that took place in Bolivia; enact a law and establish institutional mechanisms to guarantee the right of access to public information in Bolivia, containing clear safeguards for access to information on serious human rights violations, in accordance with international standards. The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the jurisdiction of the Court on October 18, 2018, because it considered that Bolivia did not comply with the recommendations contained in the Merits Report.

The case offers the Court the opportunity to develop and consolidate its jurisprudence on the duty of States to adapt their legal framework to guarantee the full and effective exercise of the right of access to information on serious human rights violations. In particular, with respect to the obligation of States to obtain, produce, analyze, classify, organize and provide society as a whole with access to military archives related to serious human rights violations of the recent past.

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. 224/18