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Bolivia: Human rights and rule of law must be protected during crisis

According to information received, most of the victims had received bullet wounds. The joint forces' use of large calibre combat ammunition and the tragic consequences of the military operation have been criticised by representatives of the Catholic Church and members of the non-governmental organisation Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos (Permanent Human Rights Assembly), who have been endeavouring to facilitate a dialogue.

'The endeavours of the Catholic Church and the Asamblea Permanente to find an effective route to dialogue in this national emergency ought to be echoed by the national authorities,' said Amnesty International. 'It is a matter of growing concern that the Bolivian authorities have not made any proposals for an effective process to resolve the present crisis and avoid further clashes and loss of life.'

The organisation urges the authorities to maintain effective control of the forces charged with maintaining order, in particular with regard to the excessive use of force against demonstrators.

'The use of the security forces must be in accordance with the provisions of the Codes of Conduct and Basic Principles of the United Nations' stressed Amnesty International. 'Any action taken by the state must demonstrate a total respect for human rights.' Amnesty International calls on the Bolivian authorities to ensure that, when formulating economic policy, account is taken of international standards on human rights and that the necessary steps are taken as laid down in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, thus recognising the indivisibility of human rights.

Amnesty International once again calls on the Bolivian authorities to carry out immediate, impartial and conclusive investigations into these tragic events and stresses the importance of having these investigations conducted by the ordinary courts. Furthermore, the organisation requests that the terms of reference of the investigation and its conclusions be made public. The organisation requests that the perpetrators be brought to justice. General information

The demonstrations and roadblocks that have been set up around the country and, in particular, in the area of the Bolivian Altiplano since 19 September by peasants, miners and trade unionists are demanding that the Government abandon its plans for the sale of gas and approve a programme that will benefit local residents, along with other sectoral demands. The escalation of violence in the country has resulted in more than 20 deaths, including two minors.

The fundamental right to life, health and security are established in Article 7 a) of the State Constitution. The authorities must uphold this important rule, which is also enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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