The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounced that the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez in Bolivia approved a decree that authorizes the military to participate in tasks of restoring internal order with “all means available” and exempts them from criminal responsibility.
The grave decree of #Bolivia ignores international human rights standards and encourages violent repression. The scope of this type of decree contravenes the obligation of States to investigate, prosecute, judge and sanction Human Rights violations. (2/3)
– IACHR – Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (@IACHR) November 16, 2019
The revelation of the decree came the day after a military-police repression of an anti-government march of coca growers in the central department of Cochabamba left at least nine dead and 115 wounded, all victims among the demonstrators, according to the Ombudsman’s Office.
The coca growers mobilized belong to unions led by Evo Morales, the president now in exile in Mexico after being forced to resign on November 10 by demonstrations called against an alleged electoral fraud to which the military and police joined.
De facto President Áñez announced on Nov. 15, in a joint statement with senior military and police officials, that she would take “constitutional measures” to combat alleged “armed subversive groups” behind persistent union and neighborhood protests against her de facto government installed on Nov. 12.
Supreme Decree 4078, dated Friday, November 15, says that the Armed Forces will participate “in the defense of society and the preservation of public order, in support of the Bolivian Police forces,” for which “they will use all available means and those that can be acquired, according to needs.
She added that “the personnel of the Armed Forces who participate in the operations for the restoration of internal order and public stability will be exempt from criminal responsibility when in compliance with their constitutional duties they act (sic) in legitimate defense or state of necessity”.
Supreme Decree 4078, dated Friday, November 15, says that the Armed Forces will participate “in the defense of society and the preservation of public order, in support of the Bolivian Police forces,” for which “they will use all available means and those that can be acquired, according to needs”.
According to the IACHR, “the Decree intends to exempt from criminal responsibility the personnel of the Armed Forces who participate in the operations for the restoration and stability of internal order. (…) The scope of this type of decree contravenes the obligation of States to investigate, prosecute, judge and punish Human Rights violations”.
The human rights body of the Organization of American States added in its tweets that it “condemns any administrative act of the government of Bolivia that violates the right to truth, justice and international human rights law”, particularly in the context of the actions of the Armed Forces in social protests.
Before this decree, military troops had already been displaced to reinforce the police in view of the expansion of protests this week by social movements that reject the de facto government.
The IACHR had denounced the “excessive” and “disproportionate” use of force by the military and police who repressed the march of coca growers in Cochabamba.