Bolivia: congress advances indigenous justice system bill

The Bolivian National Congress on June 8 advanced legislation that would create an independent justice system for indigenous communities. The Law of Judicial Authority, passed by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, would create a system of “communal justice” that would expedite the settlement of disputes and end the “colonization of justice,” according to supporters.

The bill would also create governmental agencies designed to defend the individual and collective rights of Bolivians. The law would restructure the Bolivian courts, creating a greater number of specialized courts, and would seek to extend judicial functions into rural areas. The preamble of the legislation outlined its benefits, stating:

The…new institutions of the multinational state [created by the bill] should greatly exceed the monocultural structure inherited from the colonial past; and should, on the basis of individual and collective effort, in each organizational structure and in all organs and institutions of public power, manifest the ideals of freedom and independence and realize a state that is sovereign, democratic, intercultrual, decentralized and autonomous.

Opponents in congress have criticized the bill as a way in which to get more people from the indigenous population on the courts, regardless of merit. The legislation will now go to the Bolivian Senate, which is expected to approve the bill.

From Jurist, June 9. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Bolivia and the indigenous autonomy struggle.