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Bolivia: Human rights defenders at risk

84-year-old human rights defender, Amparo Carvajal has spent over 45 days in vigil in cold temperatures outside the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Bolivia (APDHB) in La Paz. On June 2, dozens of people raided the APDHB’s office (of which Amparo is president) and forced staff to abandon the premises.

On July 12, Amparo managed to enter the offices by way of a ladder and has been sleeping on the roof of the office for days with no access to water nor bathroom or proper shelter. She and her colleagues are the subject of threats and intimidation.

The APDHB offices remain occupied, and dozens of police are blocking the entrance. We demand authorities allow Amparo and members of the APDHB to enter the offices to carry out their human rights work, as well as guarantee their health, physical integrity, and safety.

Here’s what you can do:

Write a letter to the President of Bolivia calling on him to:

  • Urgently ensure the health, physical integrity and safety of Amparo Carvajal and her colleagues, ensuring compliance with the Resolution 56/2023 of the Constitutional judge of La Paz.

Write to:

President of Bolivia

Luis Arce Catacora

Zona Central

Calle Ayacucho Esq. Potosí

La Paz – Bolivia

Email:  minpres@presidencia.gob.bo

Twitter: @LuchoXBolivia

Salutation: Dear President Arce,  

And copy:

Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

130 Albert Street, Suite 416

Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4

Tel: (613) 680-5730/ (613) 422-1312

Email: bolivia@bolivianembassy.ca


The Permanent Assembly on Human Rights in Bolivia (APDHB) was established in 1976 and is a confederation of volunteer lawyers and human rights defenders throughout Bolivia that offer pro bono legal assistance to victims of human rights violations as well as raising awareness about rule of law, justice and impunity in the country.

Amnesty International has documented how human rights defenders in Bolivia are routinely subjected to harassment, stigmatization, and threats from authorities. In 2018, we released a public statement about Amparo Carvajal, who was subject to unfounded criminalizing accusations against her.

Impediment to human rights work

According to personnel of the APDHB, the organization attends to approximately 10 to 15 people each day who come to their La Paz offices to seek legal advice and assistance. Throughout the country, the APDH also has representatives in each department of the country. On June 2, 2023, about 50 people stormed their offices, forcing the three volunteer lawyers and the secretary of the organization to abandon the premises.

The information provided points to the involvement of figures associated with the ruling political party, who during 2021 and 2022 made attempts to revoke the status of Amparo Carvajal as the president of the APDHB and undermine her registration status in the national tax office.

Since the raid on the offices, several key documents of the APDHB appear to have been stolen, destroyed or removed from the offices. The APDHB works on several cases of grave human rights violations.  Many of the APDHB´s documents have been stolen or destroyed and the legal defense provided by the organization´s lawyers has been brought to a halt.

Legal representatives of the APDHB filed a complaint before the public prosecutor´s office in relation to the raid on its offices. Nevertheless, the public prosecutor rejected this complaint and has failed to open an investigation into the events.

Keeping vigil

Personnel of the APDHB told Amnesty International that representatives of the Human Right´s Ombudsman´s office visited Amparo Carvajal´s encampment outside the APDHB office yet has done little to restore her or her colleagues to their premises.

On July 12, Amparo Carvajal made her way onto the roof of the office of the APDHB by way of a ladder. Since then, the people that are occupying the offices have been denying her access to a bathroom or water and have also threatened her. On the same day, July 12, a Constitutional judge ordered the people occupying the premises to cease their harassment against Amparo and to ensure her access to basic services. Noncompliance of the judicial resolution would involve a public prosecutor ensuring its enforcement.

Authorities have also failed to provide access for Amparo´s independent doctor and psychologist to be able to attend to her. Food is transported to her by way of a ladder, yet she had had no proper access to a bathroom for days, and this is seriously affecting her health.