Bolivia: improve monitoring and tackle high rate of pre-trial detention, UN torture prevention body urges

The UN torture prevention body urged Bolivia to focus more on making the body that monitors places of detention fully independent, effective and in line with the country’s international obligations.

The call came at the end of the second visit to Bolivia by the Subcommittee on prevention of Torture (SPT), when the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Bolivian authorities.

During its 9-day stay in the country, the SPT conducted visits to 23 places of deprivation of liberty throughout the country. Among these were police stations, prisons, centres for juveniles, judicial cells as well as a psychiatric hospital.

Members of the delegation carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and persons deprived of their liberty.

The delegation met with government officials, including the Constitutional Tribunal, indigenous authorities, representatives of civil society and UN agencies. The SPT met and conducted joint visits with Bolivia’s designated detention monitoring body known as SEPRET.

“While recognizing the work of SEPRET, we are concerned that its independence is compromised by its subordination by law under the Ministry of Justice. Functional and administrative independence of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) is a fundamental provision of OPCAT* and it’s a safeguard element which determines their real effectiveness,” said Emilio Ginés Santidrián, who headed the delegation.

During their visit, the SPT delegation also followed up on its recommendations from 2010.

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