Bolivia: authorities must grant full reparation to victims of human rights violations occurred during military and authoritarian regimes

Bolivian authorities must grant full reparation to victims of human rights violations committed during the country’s military and authoritarian regimes according to the international human rights standards, said today Amnesty International.

The appeal was made on the occasion of the 41 anniversary of general Hugo Bánzer Suárez military coup. The seven years comprising Bánzer regime as well as other military and authoritarian governments in Bolivia from 1964 to 1982 was characterized by severe human rights’ violations, including torture and forced disappearances.

“In spite of some positive measures that have been implemented, including the exhumation of the remains of missing persons, substantial progress towards the identification and prosecution of those responsible has not been achieved. The military archives still have not been declassified and thousands of victims and relatives of victims still wait for their reparations,” said María José Eva Parada, Amnesty International researcher for Bolivia.

Since the promulgation of a law in March 2004 addressing the issue of compensation to victims of political violence the Ministry of Justice has received around 6.200 applications.

However, according to official information, only 1.714 of these applicants have been qualified as beneficiaries and no more than 800 of these have allegedly received any economic compensation up to date. All other applications have been rejected.

A group of victims and relatives affected have been sitting in front of the Bolivian Ministry of Justice for approximately six months.

The Ministry of Justice conditioned access to compensation measures to specific requirements such as medical certificates of the tortured suffered, death certificates and other documents of the time difficult or impossible to obtain by victims and relatives of victims.

“The requirements imposed by the authorities to claim for any compensation as established by law have been extremely restrictive, preventing many victims to access to any reparation measure apart from promoting the re-victimization of many of them,” said María José Eva Parada.

“The establishment of appeals and review mechanism is essential in order to guarantee survivors and victims’ relatives their legitimate right to obtain reparation the violations they suffered.”

In April and May 2012 a new law and a decree were passed according to which the compensation amounts established in the 2004 law would be reduced. Also, the list of beneficiaries was made public, yet without any indication of the sum they would receive. According to information received by Amnesty International, beneficiaries do not know the exact amount until the moment they receive it.

“On the one hand many victims face difficulties to have access to the compensation measures, while on the other hand if they appear in the list of beneficiaries, they are denied the payment as established by law in 2004. Moreover, there is a lack of transparency regarding how much the beneficiaries should be receiving and how the final amounts were calculated,” said María José Eva Parada.

Complementary InformationThe Law 2640 for “Exceptional compensation to victims of political violence during periods of unconstitutional governments” was issued on 11 March 2012.

The law establishes a set of compensatory measures such as free medical assistance, psychological rehabilitation and economic benefits to victims and relatives of those who suffered from tortures or forced disappearance, among other human rights violations.

According to the law, the State would commit to pay 20 per cent of the total payments while seeking external funds for the remaining 80 per cent. On April 30 2012 the Plurinational Legislative Assembly passed the law 238 which modified two articles about the beneficiaries’ payment. On the next day the Supreme Decree 1211 was passed, establishing the rules for the individual payments and approving the official list of beneficiaries. Victims and relatives assure that they are paying only up to 20 per cent of what they should be paying according to the law approved in 2004.

In June 2012 Amnesty International wrote to the Bolivian Minister of Justice to request information on the fulfillment of the law 2640, as well as on the measures adopted in order to guarantee the victims` right to a fair compensation.

According to international law the State has the obligation to provide full reparation to victims of human rights` violations, including measures for restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of no repetition.

In accordance to the reports issued by victims’ organizations in Bolivia there were over 100 forced disappearances during the military or authoritarian regimes (1964-82). It is estimated that during the seven years of the Bánzer regime (1971-78) hundreds of persons were tortured and over 70 people were victims of forced disappearences.