Daily Archives: January 6, 2012

An interesting article in The Economist about Bolivian Justice, January 2012

The Economist has written about Bolivia’s Justice, here is an excerpt but the link below will take you to the full story:

The justice system in Bolivia

Rough justice

The wrong way to reform the courts

Jan 7th 2012 | LA PAZ | from the print edition

IN THE streets of El Alto, Bolivia’s poorest and fastest-growing city, scarecrow dummies hang grotesquely from lampposts with ropes around their necks as a macabre warning to potential thieves and criminals. The threat is not idle. Residents have little faith in the police or the courts. Instead, they often take justice into their own hands: the lynching and killing of alleged offenders is not infrequent in El Alto, nor elsewhere in Bolivia.

The socialist government of President Evo Morales reckons that the way to restore public faith in the judicial system is to replace the judges with elected ones. On January 3rd, with much fanfare, he swore in 56 judges elected in a national ballot last October. They will now compose the country’s four highest courts.

Many rural Bolivians have no access to the courts. The new constitution drawn up by Mr Morales’s party and approved in 2009 has legalised traditional justice dispensed by village elders. Community justice can sometimes resemble legalised lynching, featuring stoning, strangulation or burning with petrol. The police do not keep separate records of these acts. Carlos Valverde, an investigative journalist, chronicled 16 such killings in 2009 and 13 in the first half of 2010, including the kidnap, torture and murder of four policemen.

Far from improving the quality of justice in Bolivia, Mr Morales’s reforms risk making it worse.