EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 18/02/97
UA 27/97 Fear for safety 28 January 1997
BOLIVIADr Waldo Albarracín, human rights defender
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at reports that Dr Waldo Albarracín
was abducted and tortured in La Paz by eight policemen on 25 January 1997.
Dr Albarracín is now receiving medical treatment in hospital. Amnesty
International believes that the incident is connected with Dr Albarracín's
public declarations on human rights issues, and fears that he may continue
to be at risk of attack as a result of his work as a human rights defender.
Dr Waldo Albarracín is President of the Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos,
Permanent Human Rights Assembly, a non-governmental human rights organization.
At 11.30 am on 25 January 1997 the public transport vehicle in which he was
travelling was intercepted by a van, and Dr Albarracín was forced out of the
vehicle by eight men in plain clothes. He was blindfolded and driven to an
unknown location where he was beaten about the head, ears and testicles for
several hours, and was told that he would be killed.
At around 3.30 pm on 25 January 1997 Dr Waldo Albarracín was taken to the
headquarters of the Policía Técnica Judicial, Judicial Police, in La Paz and
placed in a cell. The department police commander subsequently ordered his
transfer to a police hospital. Fearing that he remained at risk there, his
family arranged for him to be moved to a private hospital where he is currently
being treated for bruising and a cracked rib.
Dr Waldo Albarracín has been presented with an arrest warrant. Amnesty
International believes that any charges he may face could be related to recent
declarations he made about an incident on 22 December 1996 in which nine people,
including a police colonel, died in clashes between miners and police in
Amayapampa, Potosí Department. Dr Albarracín has publicly called for a full
investigation into all the deaths.
The Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos is a leading Bolivian human rights
organization which was founded in 1976. Dr Waldo Albarracín has been its
president for six years, and an outspoken defender of human rights. In May
1996, Dr Waldo Albarracín was a delegate at an international conference on
the protection of human rights defenders organized by Amnesty International
and held in Bogotá, Colombia.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express or airmail letters
in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing deep concern at the abduction and torture of Dr Waldo Albarracín,
carried out by members of the police;
- urging the Bolivian authorities to take steps to guarantee the safety of
Dr Waldo Albarracín;
- calling for an immediate suspension from duty of any members of the police
suspected of involvement in the abduction and torture of Dr Waldo Albarracín,
pending a full and independent inquiry;
- urging that the findings of the inquiry be made public, and that those
responsible be brought to justice;
- asking for details of any charges against Dr Waldo Albarracín.