January 30, 2008

The Ugly Face of Communal Justice

MABB © ®

Update: Here is an article from the Washington Post about Bolivian communal justice.

I am glad that the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is speaking out against the practice of Communal Justice in Bolivia. As you can see in these reports by HRF, it has a very ugly face:

Here is what HRF's 2007 Country Report has to say:

SYNOPSIS: Bolivia is undergoing an unprecedented process of constitutional reform driven by the executive branch. President Evo Morales, elected in December of 2005, along with supporting political parties, has proposed replacing the constitution with a national constituent assembly. Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly began its work on August 6, 2006, following the election of its deputies on July 2, 2006. Assembly deputies approved the new, 408-article constitution on December 9, 2007.1 However, opposing political parties and leaders dispute the validity of the vote, arguing that the proposed constitution was not approved by the requisite two-thirds majority. They also took issue with the fact that the text was approved not in the seat of the Assembly itself, in the city of Sucre, but in the city of Oruro, and objected that no opposition deputies from the Constituent Assembly were present at the vote. While some articles in the new constitution’s approved text guarantee due process rights, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is profoundly concerned that the new constitution grants equal standing to an alternative system of justice known as justicia comunitaria (“communal justice”). Enshrining this system within the Bolivian constitution would hinder individual rights otherwise guaranteed by both the existing constitution and international treaties to which Bolivia is signatory.

Here is a recent press release where HRF even speaks against the new MAS constitution:

Enshrining Mob Rule in Bolivia: Communal Justice and the New Constitution

LA PAZ, Bolivia (January 15, 2008) -- Lashing, crucifixion and other forms of corporal punishment would be legal in a new constitution proposed by the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Since 2005, Bolivia has seen a dramatic increase in such disturbing practices, including lynchings and torture, meted out under an informal system known as “communal justice.” Cases include death sentences for women accused of adultery and the beating, stoning, hanging, and burning of an elected official accused of corruption.

And if you didn't get enough, here is a video.