This time, Human Rights Watch CAUGHT@

The 2023 World Report of the prestigious Human Rights Watch on the universal state of the art in the field of Human Rights has just been presented to society. His chapter dedicated to Bolivia, which covers until last year, concludes: “Political interference devastated the Bolivian justice system during the governments of former President Evo Morales (2006 – 2019) and former interim President Jeanine Áñez (2019-2020). President Luis Arce (2020 onwards) has not been able to promote judicial reform”. It also highlights that both governments – of Morales and Áñez – presented what: “appeared to be politically motivated charges against their political rivals” and that “after winning the 2020 elections, President Arce said that the justice system should be independent of politics, but your government has not taken concrete steps to reform it.”

For example, it refers to the May 2022 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, when he concluded that external interference in the justice system is a continuous and long-standing problem: almost 50% of judges and 70% of the prosecutors remained “temporary”, so they lack security in their position and are vulnerable to reprisals, including their arbitrary dismissal, if they make decisions that displease those in power. Clearer, holy water.

In other words, Human Rights Watch joins a group of international organizations, such as the World Justice Project, the Group of Independent Experts of the Inter-American System, and many others, which systematically demonstrate the deplorable state of the Bolivian justice administration system, and that includes the performance of all the last governments. No one is saved: when they win the government, they do the same thing that the opposition criticized five minutes ago.

Probably for those of us who are directly involved in that system, although the sovereign also knows it perfectly well, this valuable report is not a novelty, since it reiterates what we all already know and suffer: Bolivian “justice” does not do justice, but has been perverted into a shredding machine of rights and guarantees of those who are obliged to protect and, are cohabiting with whom they must control. Although exceptions apply, because I know operators who, despite everything, perform their complicated role in acceptable terms; at the end of the day, and when it is fundamentally about processes of state or partisan political interest, it is very, very likely that the product will be completely far removed not only from what is fair, legal, constitutional or conventional, but even from common sense. Remember the “human right” of the TCP in favor of their boss.

Worst of all, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. I am usually an optimist – they say we are, well-informed pessimists – but in view there should not be a single person, worse lawyer who does not agree on the extreme urgency of a genuine reform to the system that is not with Botox to present it more painted cosmetically, but towards their structures and essences; it turns out that the only thing that has been there are delicious speeches, meetings, brainy reports, some “new” laws and some other system – digital citizenship, very plausible – but at the end of the day, the state of the art is not only the same, but worse .

Currently, there are two interesting initiatives proposing solutions to the mess that the CPE has put into us – and it could continue this year for the 3rd time – but only on the system for electing senior Judicial officials. The Independent Jurists are collecting signatures for their proposal – they are going against time and the fences that the “establishment” is planting for them – and Senator Silvia Salame has just presented a bill to the ALP to change that system to some extent, unsuccessfully demonstrated. The constitutional lock on the matter is definitely a ballast that deepens the disaster.

However, this debacle of the system is so fucked up that these initiatives are simply pointing to one of the factors, very important and gravitating, but not the only one that disfigures our justice. The form of election of high officials, plus what all the reports on their status show us, is that we require much more: it is about the justice administration system, not only made up of those high officials, but also through the Prosecutor’s Office, the Police (no government dared to reform it, despite its stinking state) and a series of entities that indirectly form part of the system: the Comptroller’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office for Children and Adolescents; protection systems for women, etc. So, the list is very long and the tasks are monumental. Is there genuine political will from actors of all stripes to do so? What are we doing and allowing as citizens? “One is not only responsible for what he does, but also for what he lets others do. He who allows another to steal his freedom ends up losing his own freedom. He who allows someone to take away his dignity, he will end up losing his own dignity ”(Nicolas Bouvier).

This time, Human Rights Watch CAUGHT@