Bolivia: Presidential candidates must commit themselves to human rights

Presidential candidates must seize the chance to put human rights in the spotlight and address the violations that continue to affect the Bolivian people, said Amnesty International today as it sent an open letter to the five candidates standing for election on 12 October. 

In the public letter Amnesty International outlines five key human rights concerns and 12 recommendations. The organization is calling on the candidates to focus on concrete measures to address weaknesses in the justice system; expose truth, and provide justice and reparation to victims of human rights violations committed during the military regimes; respect sexual and reproductive rights; improve prison conditions and guarantee the rights of Indigenous People.

“This election presents a great opportunity for a new government to deepen the reforms that have taken place so far and commit to making the human rights changes that are so urgently needed,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director Americas Programme, Amnesty International.

“Respect for human rights must be the cornerstone of every policy put forward by presidential candidates in Bolivia.”

 While some positive steps have been made in recent years to overcome discrimination and promote the economic, social and cultural rights of the most marginalized peoples in Bolivia, much more needs to be done to guarantee the human rights of all people in the country are respected.  

“The five political parties should use this opportunity to set out exactly how they would tackle the many human rights challenges that exist in Bolivia today,” said Guadalupe Marengo. 

Long-standing problems in the judiciary, such as limited resources have hindered Bolivia’s fight against impunity. Historical cases are going unaddressed. Many of those who suffered human rights violations under the military regimes which ruled the country between 1964 and 1982 are still waiting for truth, justice and reparation. Amnesty International is calling for the creation of an independent and well-resourced mechanism to shine a light on these violations that would work alongside judicial proceedings.

Maternal mortality rates in Bolivia remain one of the highest in the region and the rate of unwanted pregnancy, especially among adolescents, continues to increase; affecting mainly women and girls of the poorest sectors of society.

“The new government, has a chance to make this right by addressing the current inequalities and discrimination, including by passing new legislation on sexual and reproductive rights, strengthening institutions and committing budget to this. All candidates should ensure that they will fight the culture of discrimination and tolerance of violence against women and girls,” said Guadalupe Marengo. 

“With a month to go before the elections it is time for candidates to stand up and explain how they will address human rights challenges in Bolivia. These are all concerns that can be solved with the right political will and now is the time to do it.”