Press Release

IACHR Grants Protection Measures in Favor of Nadia Alejandra Cruz Tarifa and Nelson Marcelo Cox Mayorga, of the Bolivian Ombudsperson’s Office

December 27, 2019

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 67/2019 on December 25, 2019, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Acting Ombudsperson Nadia Alejandra Cruz Tarifa and of Nelson Marcelo Cox Mayorga, the Ombudsperson’s Office delegate for the department of Cochabamba, in Bolivia. According to the request, the premises where the Ombudsperson’s Office functioned —particularly those in La Paz and Cochabamba—were occupied or shut down by third parties, which posed major hurdles and obstacles for officials working there to be able to do their job and for people who wished to consult the Ombudsperson’s Office to be able to approach the institution and enter its facilities normally. Beneficiaries currently face the greatest risks in this context, given that they are very visible and representative as heads of the national office in La Paz and the departmental office in Cochabamba.

To assess this case, the Commission took into consideration that national human rights institutions like ombudspersons’ offices are crucial to ensure compliance with and respect for human rights in the Americas and in individual countries around the region. The Commission is particularly concerned about allegations that, during demonstrations, “aggressive verbal reactions,” with shouts that were considered slanderous toward officials of the institution,” were uttered at the offices in La Paz and Cochabamba. Those demonstrators allegedly sought to get the Ombudsperson’s Office to support their own partisan political position. According to the requesting parties, officials were pushed and pulled when they tried to enter the premises.

The Commission further observes that the situation has run parallel to a smear campaign against the Ombudsperson’s Office in several media outlets. The requesting parties said that police officers had made contemptuous comments about the work done by officials at the Office and had used a particularly threatening tone against its delegate in the department of Cochabamba. Further, third parties went to Nelson Cox’s home for three days in a row in late November 2019 to demand that he resign. They stayed there until the early hours, using noisemakers and other explosive devices next to the windows and threatening Cox’s family and neighbors.

The Commission notes and values the actions the State reported it had taken. In particular, the IACHR commends Bolivia’s high authorities for acknowledging the role of the Ombudsperson’s Office to ensure that the current “situation marked by sociopolitical conflict” can be overcome. However, the Commission warns that the security measures adopted by the State have not ended the risks in a way that allows the proposed beneficiaries to return to their daily tasks and to work normally.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR asked the Bolivia to take any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Nadia Alejandra Cruz Tarifa and Nelson Marcelo Cox Mayorga; to take any measures necessary to ensure that beneficiaries can conduct their business without being subjected to threats, harassment, or any other forms of violence; to come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be adopted; and to report on any actions taken to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

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. 340/19