Crime & Justice

Bolivian government urges compliance with IACHR recommendations on judicial elections

La Paz, Sept 26 (EFE). – The Bolivian government on Tuesday called on the Legislative Assembly and other state bodies to comply with the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to guarantee the judicial elections, which are being blocked in the legislature.

The Minister of Justice, Iván Lima, responded on the social network X (formerly Twitter) to the statement that the IACHR made on Tuesday calling on the Bolivian state to guarantee the judicial elections that should be held at the end of the year.

“We call on the competent authorities to comply with the declaration of the Inter-American Commission, issued within the framework of its mandate to guarantee the implementation of constitutional rights and safeguards in the countries of the region,” said Lima.

He pointed out that the IACHR called on the legislature to “reach a consensus” to carry out the pre-selection of candidates under the standards of “equal and inclusive access to all candidates, qualification based on merit and professional capacity, as well as the participation of civil society for effective social control”.

The Minister regretted that the law recently approved by the Senate, which gives the green light to the pre-selection process, “violates these points by creating the possibility of voting by list and omitting the oral evaluation”.

The IACHR’s alarm

The IACHR expressed its concern on Tuesday over the challenges posed by the process of electing judges in Bolivia, and urged the state to adopt “effective” measures to guarantee the independence of the judicial branch and its proper functioning.

In addition to the standards mentioned by Lima, the Commission also deemed it “imperative” that the election processes be “free from political influence and any kind of discrimination” in order to ensure public confidence in state institutions.

For this reason, it urged the State, and in particular the Congress, to reach a consensus and approve the electoral call and its regulations in order to proceed and complete the process for the elections in a timely manner.

How judicial elections work

The Bolivian Constitution of 2009 introduced the popular election of the highest authorities of the main courts, with candidates previously selected by a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly.

However, the majority of voters in the 2011 and 2017 judicial elections voted null or blank to reject the process, considering that it was manipulated by the legislative majority of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party to elect judges aligned with it.

Earlier this month, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Oscar Hassenteufel, declared that there was no possibility of holding the elections this year due to the lack of a list of candidates, which the legislature had not yet been able to preselect.

The pre-selection process has been paralyzed twice by decisions of constitutional courts in response to lawsuits filed by opposition parliamentarians.

At the end of August, the Senate approved a new “Transitional Law for the 2023-2024 Judicial Elections,” but it has not yet been considered by the lower house.

Although the MAS has a majority in the Bolivian legislature, it does not have the two-thirds majority needed to pass the most important laws.

In addition, conflicts between pro-government factions supporting President Luis Arce and former President Evo Morales (2006-2019) have been another obstacle to the primaries.EFE


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