Crime & Justice

Bolivia moves reform bill to strengthen gender violence law

La Paz, Jul 19 (EFE).- The Bolivian government on Tuesday moved a bill that seeks to strengthen a 2013 law on violence against women, the full application of which has been an ongoing demand of social organizations.

The document was delivered by social leader Flora Aguilar to President Luis Arce in a ceremony at Government House attended by ministers, parliamentarians, former authorities, officials and representatives of trade unions and social and feminist organizations.

Justice minister Iván Lima and presidency minister María Nela Prada separately highlighted that the draft was worked on with broad participation from various sectors, with more than 1,000 proposals to improve Law 348 – the Comprehensive Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free From Violence.

Arce highlighted some measures taken by his government, such as the creation of a commission that reviewed cases in which those sentenced for femicides and infanticides were released, and the recent approval of a law that establishes punishments against judicial officials that in any way favor those accused of these crimes.

“We are making progress, but we know that we are missing many steps and we believe that today we are taking perhaps one of the most important steps, because we received this bill from the hands of you who, as women’s social organizations, participated in the more than a thousand proposals that came to us,” he said.

According to Arce, when the new law is promulgated “a state system will be built to protect women, with interoperability mechanisms that allow timely, rapid and efficient actions” to combat all types of gender violence.

“With this law, the rights and privileges of the aggressors will end. Whoever attacks a woman must be certain that their aggression will be punished with the full weight of the law,” he warned.

In the first half of the year, the country reported 48 cases of femicide and 24,918 cases of violence against women and minors, according to data from the Bolivian Prosecutor’s Office.

Femicide is punished in the country with 30 years in prison without the right to pardon, the maximum penalty under Law 348 enacted in 2013 by then-president Evo Morales.

However, feminist organizations have claimed for years that this rule is not fully complied with due to shortcomings such as the lack of budget and inadequate personnel.

The cases of those convicted of femicide who were released and who reoffended have also caused outrage, prompting the government to create the aforementioned commission to review processes.

The document presented on Tuesday fills some “gaps” in Law 348 and “creates” competence to give responsibilities to autonomous territorial entities and the central level, Aguilar said.

According to the leader, it is proposed that “all types of violence” have an “administrative and/or criminal disciplinary procedure” and a Functional Network for the Fight and Eradication of Violence Against Women would be created to coordinate policies and the execution of resources among all levels of government.

The bill creates “a special criminal procedure to punish differentiated crimes of violence that eliminates unnecessary stages or hearings to reach trial” and reinforces the application of special protection measures for victims, Aguilar said.

It also establishes the “priority of searching for women in case of disappearance” if there is a history of violence and proposes the creation of a “differential sanctioning administrative system in the areas of health, education, work and communication,” she said.

The government urged the legislature to treat this project as a priority. EFE


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