Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Bolivia

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 April 2004
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Bolivia, 14 April 2004, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Aggression against CEJIS members35

On 13th March 2003, Mr. Cliver Rocha, lawyer in charge of the Regional Unit of the Centre for Legal Studies and Social Research (CEJIS, Centro de Estudios Jurídicos e Investigación Social) in Riberalta and Director of the Indigenous Union of the Amazonian region of Bolivia (CIRABO, Central Indígena de la Región Amazonica de Bolivia) was assaulted as he was leaving the Riberalta court. He was savagely beaten and threatened with death by Alex Ribert Rejas, a landowner, following a hearing opposing the Ribert Rejas family to the "Esperanza" community of the Tacana indigenous people. He managed to escape with the help of his sister. The CEJIS lodged a complaint on the basis of the certificate drawn up by the Criminal Investigation Department's (PTJ, Policia Tecnica Judicial) attending physician and was also to file a complaint with the Public Prosecutor, the Human Rights Permanent Assembly and the department of the Ombudsman. At the end of 2003, the trial is ongoing.

On 25th September 2003, Mr. Cesar Blanco, lawyer for the CEJIS, was also assaulted by Mr. José El Hage, a member of a family of contract killers from the region, simply because he had been involved in a trial initiated by the community of independent people of the Earth from Origen Monte Verde, versus his brother Mr. Alberto El Hage. Mr. Blanco lodged a complaint. At the end of 2003, the case is pending.

On 12th November 2003, about 3 p.m., some 150 individuals burst into the regional office of the CEJIS in Trinidad. The assailants were looking for Mr. Javier Aramayo, regional director of the CEJIS, so as to attack him physically. These facts have also been included in a complaint submitted to the Department of the Public Prosecutor which, at the end of 2003, is being processed.

CEJIS lawyers and members are constantly being subjected to threats and assaults because they offer legal support to the recognition of the land rights of indigenous people and the authorities fail to take the necessary measures to punish those responsible for these acts. Mr. Leonardo Tamburini is a case in point. He is a CEJIS lawyer and a defender of Chiquitanos indigenous rights, and survived an attempted assassination in 2001 and was further subject to grave threats in 2002; the perpetrators have not been prosecuted.

Break in and burglary of the APDBH offices36

On 19th October 2003, unidentified individuals got into the offices of the Human Rights Permanent Assembly of Bolivia (APDHB, Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia) in La Paz and stole video cassettes, a DVD, a VHS player, and a portable computer. Apparently, these intruders attempted to copy the data on the APDHB's computer hard disks. The APDHB lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (PTJ, Policia Tecnica Judicial) in Bolivia. It would seem that this theft relates to the work performed by the APDHB in the difficult circumstances Bolivia experienced in September 2003. From 15th September 2003 and into October 2003, social protests took place throughout the country to expose the gas export arrangements. These demonstrations were brutally crushed by the police, leading to a large number of casualties. The APDHB worked especially hard to ensure a negotiated solution to the conflict and to report grave violations of human rights. In particular, they held important information on violations perpetrated by the police during the crack down on social unrest.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website ( was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

35. See Urgent Appeal BOL 001/0303/OBS 014 and Annual Reports 2001 and 2002.

36. See Urgent Appeal BOL 002/1003/0BS 054.

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