The government signed a reparations agreement with victims of the former military regime. The judiciary continued to lack full independence. Threats and attacks against human rights defenders continued. Law enforcement officials violently repressed, and in some cases arbitrarily detained, coca leaf producers who were protesting. Deforestation and mercury contamination particularly affected Indigenous peoples.
After camping for more than 10 years in front of the Ministry of Justice, victims of the 1964-1982 military regime signed a reparation agreement with the government that will bring economic reparation for more than 1,700 people. However, thousands of victims were still awaiting government recognition and reparation.
The victims of human rights violations and crimes under international law reported in the course of the 2019 political crisis, during which at least 37 people died and hundreds more were wounded, were still awaiting justice, truth and reparation at the end of the year.
Right to a fair trial
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers visited the country in February and concluded that authorities continue to interfere with the independence of the judiciary and access to justice remains difficult.
Authorities and officials of the former interim government were still facing charges including “terrorism”, “sedition” and “conspiracy”. After more than 21 months, former interim president Jeanine Áñez and other former state authorities were still in pre-trial detention. This also indicated structural problems in the administration of justice, resulting in an extremely high proportion of people awaiting trial being deprived of their liberty.
Human rights defenders
Authorities failed to protect environmental human rights defenders, who, according to local organizations, were the targets of at least 200 attacks and threats during the year. Some attacks included kidnappings and the burning of community camps, where many environmental defenders were staying.
Human rights defenders, including Waldo and Franco Albarracín, continued to report threats against them and their families, as well as persistent stigmatization and harassment by the authorities. Waldo Albarracín also faced criminal proceedings that lacked due process guarantees.1
Freedom of expression and assembly
Law enforcement officials violently repressed, and in some cases arbitrarily detained, coca leaf producers protesting against US-funded efforts to eradicate local production. Security forces used excessive force against some of the detainees.
Environmental degradation and Indigenous peoples’ rights
Despite Bolivia’s commitment to maintain its forest cover and combat illegal deforestation, over a million hectares of land were burned, mostly to expand agricultural activities, during the year.
The contamination associated with the unregulated disposal of mercury waste in rivers, mostly due to small-scale gold mining, was linked to illness, especially in Indigenous fishing communities living in poverty. The government announced it would implement a plan to reduce the use of mercury, but did not disclose the plan’s content.
Women survivors of gender-based violence seeking justice lacked effective protection from reprisals. Women and adolescents lacked free or affordable modern contraceptives, especially in rural areas.