Amnesty International takes no position on issues of sovereignty or territorial disputes. Borders on this map are based on UN Geospatial data.
Back to Bolivia

Bolivia 2023

Concerns persisted over the judiciary’s lack of independence. Authorities failed to protect human rights defenders. Victims of human rights violations awaited reparation. Indigenous Peoples were affected by unregulated mining. Security forces attacked journalists during protests. Authorities took insufficient action to combat forest fires.

Right to a fair trial and detainees’ rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited Bolivia in March and expressed particular concern about the judiciary’s lack of independence from the government. In August, the commission requested information from the authorities on the condition of César Apaza, ex-leader of an association of coca leaf producers who had been in pretrial detention since September 2022 after law enforcement officials violently repressed protests by the association. In September, Apaza began a hunger strike, denouncing unfair judicial processes against him and ill-treatment by prison authorities.

Human rights defenders

Authorities failed to protect human rights defenders. According to local organizations, environmental human rights defenders remained among those most at risk.

On 2 June, dozens of people with alleged links to the ruling political party raided and occupied the offices of the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Bolivia (APDHB), an NGO in La Paz.1 Following the raid, 84-year-old human rights defender and president of the APDHB, Amparo Carvajal, undertook a 52-day vigil outside the offices of the organization. The authorities failed to ensure the security and health of Carvajal and her colleagues during the vigil. The Spanish consul in Bolivia facilitated a negotiated evacuation of the groups occupying the office, bringing the vigil to an end.2 The normal functioning of the APDHB had not resumed by the end of the year.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

In October, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published its first report monitoring the implementation of recommendations made by its Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts for Bolivia in response to the 2019 political crisis. At least 37 people died and hundreds more were wounded by security forces during the crisis. The commission recognized some advances in support for victims, but it noted that ongoing investigations into grave human rights violations had registered little progress, and a comprehensive reparation programme had not been implemented.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The government announced the implementation phase of a national plan to reduce the exposure of Indigenous Peoples to the unregulated disposal of mercury from gold mining. The announcement was not accompanied by any details on how the plan was to be implemented. Meanwhile, the authorities continued to permit new gold mining projects, which raised the risk of mercury contamination for communities across the country.

Freedom of expression and assembly

During January, the Ombudsperson’s Office reported several instances of excessive use of force by police in response to a series of protests following the arrest of the governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho. Civil organizations documented attacks against 75 journalists during the protests.

Right to a healthy environment

Despite Bolivia’s commitment to maintain its forest cover, human rights defenders cited inaction by authorities to abolish laws that for years have favoured agro-industry and extractive industries and enabled deforestation. Defenders also highlighted insufficient measures to prevent an intense forest fire season – made more intense by climate change – towards the end of the year.

  1. “Bolivia: Human rights defenders at risk, 40+ days of vigil”, 19 July
  2. “Bolivia: Further information: Human rights defender ends 52-day vigil after invaders vacate occupied NGO office: Amparo Carvajal”, 1 August