World Report 2023: Rights Trends in Bolivia (2023)

Political interference plagued the Bolivian justice system under the governments of former President Evo Morales (January 2006–November 2019) and former interim President Jeanine Áñez (November 2019–2020). President Luis Arce, who took office in November 2020, has failed to push through judicial reform.

The Arce government supports baseless and exaggerated charges of terrorism and genocide against former President Áñez. In June 2022, a judge sentenced her to 10 years in prison for breach of duty and violation of the law, which is very broadly defined in Bolivia. He was not allowed to attend his trial in person.

No one has been held responsible for 37 killings related to election-related protests in 2019, including 20 people in two massacres in which state security forces opened fire on protesters, according to witnesses.

Women and girls remain at high risk of violence. Prison overcrowding and excessive detention continue. Indigenous communities face obstacles in exercising their right under international law to free, prior and informed consent to measures that may affect them.

Judicial independence and due process

The Morales and Áñez governments brought what appeared to be politically motivated charges against their political rivals.

After winning the presidential election in October 2020, President Arce said the judicial system should be independent of politics, but his government has not taken concrete steps to reform it.

In a May 2022 report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers said that outside interference in the justice system is a long-standing and persistent problem. Almost 50 percent of judges and 70 percent of prosecutors in Bolivia remained "temporary" as of February, the report noted. Officials who lack job security may be vulnerable to reprisals, including arbitrary dismissal, if they make decisions that displease those in power.

In March 2021, police detained former interim president Áñez and two of her former ministers on terrorism and other charges. The public prosecutor later charged Áñez with genocide in connection with two massacres during his rule. Human Rights Watch reviewed the indictment documents and found the charges of terrorism and genocide to be baseless and grossly disproportionate. The definition of these crimes is too broad in Bolivian law. As of October 2022, the two former ministers remained in custody.

In June 2022, in a separate case, a court sentenced Áñez to ten years in prison for dereliction of duty and making decisions contrary to the law—crimes that are also very broadly defined in Bolivian law—for her actions while serving as interim official president in November 2019. Áñez was not allowed to attend her own trial in person as judges claimed they could not guarantee her health or safety in court. That prevented Áñez from consulting with his lawyers during the hearings.

In April, Marco Aramayo died in his seventh year in prison amid serious allegations of inadequate medical care and ill-treatment. In 2015, after becoming director of the state's Indigenous Development Fund, he denounced several corruption schemes allegedly involving prominent supporters of the Morales government. Instead of properly investigating those allegations, prosecutors detained him and charged him with corruption, according to ITEI, a Bolivian nonprofit organization.

In response to criticism from Human Rights Watch and others, police said in June they would stop introducing people they had arrested to the press, a practice that risked violating the presumption of innocence. However, the interior minister continued to post pictures of suspects on social media.

Protest-related violence and abuse

The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), established under a government agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), issued a report in August 2021 documenting the deaths of 37 people in protests over disputed elections. October 2019.

It documented acts of violence "instigated" by the Morales administration, including injuries, kidnappings and torture of anti-Morales protesters. He claimed that the police failed to protect people from violence by Morales supporters and anti-Morales, and in some places encouraged and collaborated with violent groups of Morales supporters acting as "para-police".

It also concluded that security forces under the Áñez government killed 20 pro-Morales protesters and wounded more than 170 people in massacres in Sacaba, Cochabamba city and Senkata, El Alto neighborhood. The report provided strong evidence of other abuses across the country, including illegal detentions, sexual violence and "systematic" torture by police in the predominantly indigenous city of El Alto.

GIEI highlighted major flaws in the investigations into the abuses and called on the Attorney General's Office to reopen cases it had closed without conclusive investigative steps. By October 2022, no one had been held accountable for the crimes; Congress and the government discussed a bill and policy to provide redress to the victims.

In March, the government signed an agreement with the IACHR to create an international mechanism to monitor the implementation of GIEI's recommendations, but failed to create a national mechanism, which GIEI had also requested.

Freedom of expression and access to information

The National Press Association, which represents the main print media in the country, reported in 2022 several cases of violence by police or protesters against journalists.

In August, the Attorney General's Office announced an investigation into two journalists, a newscaster and others who worked for a state television channel during the Áñez administration for allegedly paying the former host a salary higher than allowed. The crimes charged against them carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The president of the La Paz Press Association saw the investigation as an attempt by the Arce government, in collaboration with prosecutors, to intimidate Bolivian journalists.

Bolivia lacks a law that regulates the allocation of advertising paid by the state. From January to August, 80 percent of the state's print media advertising contracts had gone to just two pro-government newspapers, various outlets reported.

Bolivia also lacks a law to implement the right of access to information enshrined in the country's constitution. In May 2022, the Arce government said that journalists' associations, not the government, should draft a bill on access to information.

Responsibility for past abuse

Bolivian authorities have not made sufficient efforts to hold officials accountable for human rights abuses under authoritarian governments between 1964 and 1982. Few have been prosecuted. The armed forces have generally refused to share information.

After camping out in front of the Ministry of Justice for more than a decade, various victims' associations signed an agreement with the government in August, in which the Arce government promised to pay compensation to victims or relatives of different ages of abuse.

Terms of detention

Detention centers in Bolivia hold more than 2.5 times as many prisoners as they were built to hold. The prison population grew by 12 percent between November 2021 and March 2022 to 20,864 people, according to official data obtained by Fundación Construir, a Bolivian non-governmental organization (NGO).

The Bolivian justice system continues to use pretrial detention excessively. As of March 2022, 65 percent of detained men and 71 percent of detained women were awaiting trial, Fundación Construir said.

indigenous rights

The 2009 constitution contains comprehensive guarantees of indigenous peoples' rights to collective land development; intercultural education; protection of indigenous legal systems; and free, prior and informed consent for development projects. However, indigenous peoples face barriers to exercising these rights.

The Bolivian Center for Documentation and Information (CEDIB), an NGO, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Poisons and Human Rights reported that the increasing illegal use of mercury in mining is harming the health of indigenous communities.

Women's and girls' rights

Women and girls remain at high risk of violence, despite a 2013 law establishing comprehensive measures to prevent and prosecute gender-based violence. The Act created the crime of "femicide" and defined it as the murder of a woman under certain circumstances, including domestic violence.

The prosecutor's office reported 108 femicides in 2021 and 69 from January to September 2022.

A study published inlancetsin February 2022 estimated, using data from 2000 to 2018, that 42 percent of Bolivian girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced violence from their partner or ex-partner, the highest percentage in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Under Bolivian law, abortion is not a crime when the pregnancy is the result of rape or when it is necessary to protect the life or health of a pregnant person. But women and girls who seek such legal abortions are likely to face stigmatization, abuse, and revictimization.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

In December 2020, the Bolivian civil registry complied with a court order and registered a gay couple's relationship as a "free union", the first same-sex union in Bolivia. In May 2022, after a year's delay, the registry also registered a lesbian couple.

The case brought by the first same-sex couple is pending before the Constitutional Court, which is expected to decide whether all same-sex couples can unite in "free unions".

Key international players

Throughout 2022, Bolivia has consistently resisted scrutiny of certain states' human rights records and has failed to protect victims' rights in international forums. At the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council, he abstained or voted against several resolutions condemning Russia's rights violations in Ukraine and voted against renewing the UN mission's mandate in Venezuela and holding a debate on the human rights situation. in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. In the Organization of American States, he abstained from voting on a resolution calling on the Nicaraguan government to release political prisoners and stop the persecution of the media.

In March, the UN Human Rights Committee called on Bolivia to guarantee the independence and impartiality of judges and prosecutors; allow same-sex couples to enter into free unions; and protect journalists from threats and violence.

In July, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern about the high levels of gender-based violence in Bolivia and called on the government to ensure thorough investigations. He also called on Bolivia to remove barriers to legal abortion and decriminalize abortion.


What happened in Bolivia 2023? ›

Protesters in Santa Cruz enter their second consecutive week of marches, vigils, and roadblocks in opposition to the arrest of Camacho. The Ministry of the Interior of Peru barres nine Bolivian nationals, including Morales and several former vice ministers, from entering the country.

What countries violate human rights in 2023? ›

Regarding country specific human rights violations and situations of concern, the most frequently referenced countries by world leaders were Ukraine/Russia, followed by Israel/Palestine, Armenia/Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh), Sahel, Afghanistan, China/Hong Kong/Xinjiang, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.

What are the human rights issues in Bolivia? ›

Abuses perpetrated by penitentiary officials included systematic intimidation, rape, psychological mistreatment, extortion, torture, sex trafficking, and threats of death. There were reports of rape and sexual assault committed by authorities and by other inmates. Corruption was pervasive.

What type of government does Bolivia have 2023? ›

The politics of Bolivia takes place in a tree of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the president is head of state, head of government and head of a diverse multi-party system.

Is Bolivia safe for American tourists? ›

Exercise increased caution in Bolivia due to civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Is it safe to travel to Bolivia right now? ›

We advise you to check with local authorities before travelling to and from the airport. We advise: Exercise a high degree of caution in Bolivia overall because of ongoing political and social tensions and the risk of serious crime.

What country violates human rights the most? ›

In a scale from zero to 10, where zero represents the best conditions and 10 the worst, Yemen had the highest points and was closely followed by Iran, and China.

Which country has the worst human rights record? ›

The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the worst human rights records of any country in the world.

Which country has the strongest human rights? ›

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Human Freedom Indexes (2021):
  • Switzerland — 9.11.
  • New Zealand — 9.01.
  • Denmark — 8.98.
  • Estonia — 8.91.
  • Ireland — 8.90.
  • Canada — 8.85.
  • Finland — 8.85.
  • Australia — 8.84.

What are two of the major problems facing people in Bolivia? ›

Bolivia's three greatest challenges
  • Social convulsion and pacification.
  • Political and international conflict.
  • Bolivia's economic situation.
Jan 23, 2020

What is the main conflict in Bolivia? ›

Bolivian gas conflict
Caused byPrivatization of natural gas Coca eradication Corruption Authoritarianism
GoalsNationalization of natural gas
MethodsDemonstrations Strike actions Traffic obstructions
8 more rows

Why are people protesting in Bolivia? ›

Weeks-long protests broke out after Camacho, who has long challenged the left-wing federal government in La Paz, was arrested for his alleged role in unrest in 2019 which saw President Evo Morales flee the country.

What are the social issues in Bolivia? ›

Women and girls remain at high risk of violence. Prison overcrowding—and excessive pretrial detention—continues. Indigenous communities face obstacles to exercising their right, under international law, to free, prior, and informed consent to measures that may affect them.

What is Bolivia famous for? ›

Bolivia is known for indigenous cultures, Spanish colonial architecture, and amazing nature including the Amazon rainforest and Sala de Uyuni. Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by five other prominent nations.

Is Bolivia a Stage 3 country? ›

Bolivia is in the third stage of demographic transition. In terms of age structure, the population is dominated by the 15–64 segment.

Can a US citizen live in Bolivia? ›

Residence And Tourist Visas In Bolivia

For those interested in settling in the country you'll have to apply to what's known as a Visa de Objecto Determinado, or Specific Purpose Visa.

Where do Americans live in Bolivia? ›

Living in Bolivia as an expat

The population of expats in Bolivia is small and most foreigners can be found either in one of the capital cities, Sucre and La Paz, or other major cities like Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Cochabamba. Most expats are employed by NGOs or are volunteering for a brief period.

Is Bolivia or Peru safer? ›

The 2022 Global Peace Index saw a bit of a shake-up in the rankings of the safest countries in South America. As such, we had a new entry with Bolivia, which ousted Peru from the top six. Bolivia is home to a wealth of natural wonders.

Are people in Bolivia friendly? ›

Bolivian Culture

Bolivians tend to be relaxed about everything, especially time and punctuality. They are open, friendly, welcoming, and affectionate. Bolivians often hug, kiss on the cheeks, or say hello to everyone they meet.

Do US citizens need visa for Bolivia? ›

All U.S. citizens visiting Bolivia are required to obtain a visa. A visa can be obtained at a Bolivian Embassy or Consulate in the United States or neighboring country. In addition, a tourist visa can be purchased at any land or air border.

Where is the safest place to travel in Bolivia? ›

La Paz, the Bolivian capital, is safe for tourists! The city does have incidents of petty theft and some armed robbery, but its crime rates are similar to most major North American cities.

What countries are denying human rights? ›

In these twenty countries, which include North Korea, Burma (Republic of the Union of Myanmar), Republic of Belarus, Turkmenistan, Republic of Uzbekistan and Tibet, citizens' most basic rights are denied and any attempts to oppose these regimes often result in torture, imprisonment and sometimes death.

Which country is the freest in the world? ›

Regionally, it is notable that several countries in Western Europe, including Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, consistently rank among the freest countries in the world. The Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, also excel in terms of freedom.

Where does the US rank in human rights in the world? ›

Selected jurisdictions rank as follows: Canada (13), Taiwan (14), Japan (16), Germany (18), United Kingdom (20), United States (23), South Korea (30), Chile (32), France (42), Argentina (74), South Africa (77), Brazil (80), Ukraine (89), Mexico (98), India (112), Russia (119), Nigeria (124), Turkey (130), China (152), ...

What is the highest human rights? ›

Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

What is the largest human rights organization in the world? ›

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 10 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights.

What country is the first in human rights? ›

1789: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen—a document of France, stating that all citizens are equal under the law. 1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the first document listing the 30 rights to which everyone is entitled.

What rank is America in freedom? ›

Download Table Data
CountryHuman FreedomRanking
United Kingdom8.7514
United States8.7315
67 more rows

What country has better human rights than the United States? ›

In the first global Human Rights Report Card issued by the CIRIGHTS Data Project, Canada and Sweden were at the head of the class with a 96, followed by New Zealand, Norway and Portugal at 94.

What country takes care of its citizens the best? ›

The Netherlands has been recognized as the best country in the world for its citizens to live, according to the CEOWORLD magazine 2020 report, while Germany and New Zealand placed second and third, respectively.

What is unusual about Bolivia? ›

Bolivia's land isn't just diverse – some of its features have broken records! Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest lake that's deep enough for a boat to sail on. Salar de Uyuni, found in the southwest of the country, is the world's largest salt flat.

What stands out about Bolivia? ›

Bolivia has two Capitals. The World Largest Navigable Lake is located in Bolivia. The highest population of Bolivia is indigenous people. Bolivia has precious gems.

What are the weaknesses of Bolivia? ›

Bolivia's weak judicial security, complicated regulatory systems, cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and political pressures adversely affect the private sector in Bolivia.

Who are the allies of Bolivia? ›

Bolivian Embassy, Washington D.C. Traditionally a strong ally and supporter of Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and Iran, ex president Evo Morales has been publicly critical of U.S. policies.

Why is Bolivia allied with Russia? ›

With Bolivia the focus on relations with Russia is mainly economic, as opposed to political and strategic, as an agreement to invest in Bolivia's natural gas fields shows. It is seen to "help Latin America... [as it] expands Latin America's economic opportunities, diversifies its relationships...that's healthy."

Why is Bolivia different from other countries? ›

It's the only landlocked nation in the continent and it's also the country with the largest indigenous population in the region.

Why are people leaving Bolivia? ›

Lack of economic opportunity and changing climate conditions are creating large flows of migrants from Bolivia across the Argentine border.

Is there freedom in Bolivia? ›

Bolivians enjoy free access to the Internet, academic freedom, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

What is the political situation in Bolivia? ›

Bolivia is a constitutional, multiparty republic with an elected president and a bicameral legislature. In October 2020 Luis Alberto Arce Catacora, candidate for the Movement Towards Socialism party, won the presidential election with 55 percent of the vote.

What is Bolivia main source of income? ›

Natural gas and oil revenues represent some of the largest sources of income for Bolivia's economy.

What are the top causes of death in Bolivia? ›

The top cause of death and disability in 2019 is Neonatal disorders, of type Communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases, which has decreased by −17.5 percent since 2009. The axis shows the percent change from -30 percent to 46 percent.

What is the social etiquette in Bolivia? ›

The customary greeting is a handshake. Shake hands when meeting and departing. Close male friends may embrace. Female friends embrace and touch cheeks. Bolivians stand very close when conversing.

Is Bolivia a good place to live in? ›

Bolivia is landlocked and has some of the best places to live in South America. The diverse country offers breathtaking scenery, friendly people, and a rich culture. But in a country with such diversity, knowing where to lay down some roots can be tricky. Here are some of the best places to live in Bolivia.

What are 2 important facts about Bolivia? ›

Bolivia's land isn't just diverse—some of its features have broken records! Lake Titicaca is the world's highest lake that's deep enough for a boat to sail on. Salar de Uyuni, which sits in the southwest of the country, is the world's largest salt flat.

What did Bolivia used to be called? ›

The territory now called Bolivia was known as Charcas, and was under the authority of the Viceroy of Peru in Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in Chuquisaca (La Plata—modern Sucre).

What is Bolivia's main religion? ›

Religion affiliation in Bolivia as of 2020, by type
CharacteristicShare of respondents
Evangelist (unspecified)15.7%
Baptist evangelist1.4%
9 more rows
Jun 21, 2022

What is the race population in Bolivia? ›

Bolivia Demographics

The full Amerindian population is 55%, with 30% mestizo and 15% white. Indigenous people account for 60% of Bolivia's population, including the Andean and Aymaras. Many mestizos in Bolivia assume the mestizo identity while also identifying with indigenous cultures.

What are the major events in Bolivia? ›

Event of Interest
  • 1959-04-19 Uprising in La Paz Bolivia, fails.
  • 1967-02-02 Bolivia adopts its constitution.
  • 1967-04-20 French author Régis Debray caught in Bolivia.
  • 1967-10-08 Guerrilla leader Che Guevara and his men are captured in Bolivia.
  • 1967-11-17 French author Régis Debray sentenced to 30 years in Bolivia.

What is the population of Bolivia 2023? ›

Bolivia's population in 2023

Bolivia's total population was 12.30 million in January 2023. Data shows that Bolivia's population increased by 150 thousand (+1.2 percent) between 2022 and 2023. 49.9 percent of Bolivia's population is female, while 50.1 percent of the population is male.

Why is Bolivia in so much debt? ›

The government refused to adjust its policies when gas prices fell. Instead, it piled on debts and used its reserves to fund its expensive subsidies. Public debt has doubled since 2014 to a whopping 80% of GDP, above the regional and world average, and dangerously high for a lower middle-income country.

Who has Bolivia gone to war with? ›

List of wars involving Bolivia
ConflictCombatant 1Combatant 2
Constitutional Revolution of Sucre (1865–1866)BoliviaConstitutional Rebels
Chincha Islands War (1865–1866)Chile Peru Ecuador BoliviaSpain
Bolivian Civil War of 1870 (1870–1871)BoliviaRebels
War of the Pacific (1879–1883)Bolivia PeruChile
16 more rows

What are 5 important facts about Bolivia? ›

Bolivia Facts Summary
  • Bolivia has more than 30 languages.
  • Bolivia has two Capitals.
  • The World Largest Navigable Lake is located in Bolivia.
  • The highest population of Bolivia is indigenous people.
  • Bolivia has precious gems.
  • One-Third of Bolivia are in the Andes Mountains.

How many Bolivians live in USA? ›

Bolivians compose the third smallest Latin American group in the United States, with a 2010 Census population of 99,210.

What is the literacy rate in Bolivia 2023? ›

Literacy of population

Literacy rate for adult male population is 97.78% (3,781,888 persons). 85,785 are illiterate. Literacy rate for adult female population is 93.57% (3,809,211 persons).

What is Bolivia known for? ›

Bolivia is known for indigenous cultures, Spanish colonial architecture, and amazing nature including the Amazon rainforest and Sala de Uyuni. Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by five other prominent nations.

Is Bolivia one of the poorest country in South America? ›

Bolivia. Bolivia is the poorest nation in Latin America by any measure.

Does Bolivia have corruption? ›

Bolivia is rich in natural resources, a sector that is highly prone to corruption worldwide. The country is very dependent on extractives, with revenues making up almost a fifth of the national budget.

Does Bolivia support Russia? ›

With Bolivia the focus on relations with Russia is mainly economic, as opposed to political and strategic, as an agreement to invest in Bolivia's natural gas fields shows. It is seen to "help Latin America... [as it] expands Latin America's economic opportunities, diversifies its relationships...that's healthy."

Is Bolivia allies with China? ›

History. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Bolivia in 1985, relations have expanded from economic and cultural ties to military, transport, infrastructure, raw materials, education and other areas. The two countries celebrated 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties in Beijing, July 9, 2010.

Is Bolivia military strong? ›

The nation holds a PwrIndx* score of 1.4339 (a score of 0.0000 is considered 'perfect'). This entry last reviewed on 01/05/2023. *PwrIndx: Each nation is assessed on individual and collective values processed through an in-house formula to generate its 'PwrIndx' (Power Index) score.


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