The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights issued a report March 25 finding that opponents of Bolivian President Evo Morales were responsible for some of the Andean country’s worst human rights violations last year. The report found that pro-autonomy forces in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands were behind political violence in September that killed 11 people in the Pando department.
The report also criticizes Morales’ government for “irregularities” surrounding the arrests that followed the violence, “excessive use of force by security forces,” and “the lack of necessary action among authorities responsible for preventing human rights violations.” Following the presentation of the report, Bolivian Justice Minister Celima Torrico told a press conference that Morales’ government “will take the recommendations into account.”
But the report gave the government high marks for improving “economic, social and cultural rights,” noting that Morales has helped reduce servitude-like working conditions affecting much of the country’s indigenous majority. But the report also noted a backlash to the government’s efforts, finding that in 2008 there was an increase in “reported acts and practices of racism and discrimination against indigenous persons” and “attacks against human rights defenders.” (IHT, UN Human Rights Council, March 25)
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