Human Trafficking in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Torture in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                              

Republic of Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America. Following a disastrous economic crisis during the early 1980s, reforms spurred private investment, stimulated economic growth, and cut poverty rates in the 1990s. The period 2003-05 was characterized by political instability, racial tensions, and violent protests against plans - subsequently abandoned - to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large northern hemisphere markets.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Bolivia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bolivia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Torture in Bolivia

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (irct)

Developed in collaboration with Institute for Research and Therapy of Torture Sequels and State Violence (ITEI), October 2014

[accessed 23 June 2015]

[accessed 19 July 2017]

Torture continues to be used as a means of conducting investigations and as a form of intimidation against civil society by the police and armed forces in Bolivia. There is no state policy for the eradication of torture and no state official has been convicted for committing torture.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or download PDF at

[accessed 18 March 2015]


DUE PROCESS AND PRISON CONDITIONS - Judges’ broad discretion to order pretrial detention and lack of access to public defenders have undermined defendants’ due process rights, particularly among Bolivia’s poor.

Bolivia has one of the highest rates of unconvicted prisoners in the region (more than 80 percent, as of December 2013). Extended pretrial detention and trial delays have led to increased overcrowding and poor conditions in prisons, where food and medical attention are inadequate and internal control is often left to prisoners. As of February 2014, there were 14,700 inmates in prisons with a maximum capacity of 4,884, according to the Ombudsman’s Office.

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2012

[accessed 18 Jan 2014]

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - In February, Gróver Beto Poma Guanto died in hospital two days after being beaten by training instructors at the Condors of Bolivia Military Training School in Sanandita, Tarija Department. Three military personnel remained under investigation in connection with the case at the end of the year. However, despite repeated calls for the case to be transferred to civilian jurisdiction, it remained under investigation in the military justice system, which lacked independence and impartiality.

IMPUNITY - Those responsible for serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions, carried out before democracy was re-established in 1982, continued to evade justice.  By the end of the year, the armed forces had not handed over to prosecutors information relating to past human rights violations, despite Supreme Court orders in April 2010 requiring them to declassify the information. The government did not press for the information to be disclosed.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices, and while the government generally respected these prohibitions, there were a number of allegations of beatings and abuse by members of the security forces. The Human Rights Ombudsman released a report on December 30 which stated that of all government institutions, police were the most frequent violators of human rights.

The Chimore Center for Justice and Human Rights (CCJHR), which was converted into an Integrated Justice Center, received 16 complaints from citizens in the Chapare during the year that security forces either had abused them or stolen their property. Cases were not formally filed with the public ministry but instead were referred for action to the police office of professional responsibility.

There also were credible allegations that military commissioned officers and noncommissioned officers beat and otherwise mistreated military conscripts.

On December 21, La Paz police officers Rene de Rio Rosales, Mario Vaca, and Edgar Choque reportedly arrested and beat Alvaro Guzman, Director of Human Rights for the Vice-Ministry of Justice, and refused to allow him access to an attorney. An investigation was pending at year's end.

The public ministry investigation continued into allegations that Santa Cruz police tortured Spanish citizen Francisco Javier Villanueva in April 2004 in connection with the February 2004 car bombing of State Prosecutor Monica Von Borries (see section 1.a.).

No significant progress was made in the 2003 case involving two coca growers injured during a protest at Cruce Vueltadero or in the 2003 beating cases of Gabina Contreras and her husband Crecencio Espinosa near Santa Rosa, allegedly by army soldiers. The latter case remained under investigation at year's end.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 21 January 2013]

Both the human rights ombudsman and independent human rights organizations are able to report on brutality by the security forces. In some cases, such as that of the 2008 deaths in Pando, security forces were accused of passivity in the face of violence; they responded by claiming that the rules of engagement were unclear.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 21 January 2013]

Bolivian courts have made some progress in prosecuting human rights abuses, even convicting seven high-ranking military officers and politicians for deaths in the 2003 street protests. However, lack of accountability remains a problem. The fate of scores who "disappeared" before democracy was re-established in 1982 remain a mystery, and trials for those who allegedly killed demonstrators in recent years have seen long delays. Military courts still insist on trying military personnel accused of abuses.

U.S. Library of Congress - Country Study

Library of Congress Call Number F3308 .B685 1991

[accessed 21 January 2013]

POLITICAL FORCES AND INTEREST GROUPS - THE MILITARY – Officers such as Banzer and García Meza represented the last vestiges of the prerevolutionary armed forces that sought unsuccessfully to eradicate populism in Bolivia. In the process, however, they discredited the military and, at least in the short run, eliminated the institution as a power option in Bolivian politics. The older generation retired in disgrace, accused of narcotics trafficking, corruption, and violations of human rights.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Bolivia",, [accessed <date>]



Human Trafficking in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]
Torture in  [Bolivia]  [other countries]