Blas Valencia Campos et al. vs. Bolivia

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the document.


44. Under the relevant constitutional and legal provisions in force in Bolivia at the time of the events
(transcribed in the section “Relevant Legal Framework”), people may only be arrested in their homes, and
their residences raided, during daytime hours, with a reasoned resolution to that end from a judge and the
mandatory participation of the prosecutor. During nighttime hours, that is, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the
following day, it was absolutely prohibited to carry out house raids and a home could only be entered with
the consent of its inhabitant or in case of flagrancy. As the same legal framework also stated, a perpetrator is
only considered to be in flagrante delicto when surprised while attempting to commit, committing, or
immediately after committing a crime while being pursued by the security forces, the aggrieved party, or
eyewitnesses to the fact.

45. Consequently, the orders issued by the investigating judge dated December 14 and 17, 2001, could
only validly be used between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.. To the extent that they authorized operations at night,
they were in violation of the Constitution and other applicable norms. As to the submission of the Bolivian
State that the arrest and raids were carried out in flagrante delicto, the Commission notes that they took place four days after the events and after a series of investigative steps had been taken to locate those responsible; therefore, in no circumstances could they be considered actions that were carried out “immediately” afterwards or “while [the perpetrator was] being pursued.”

46. Bearing in mind the foregoing and what is described in the established facts, the Commission finds
that both the arrests and the house raids carried out in the pre-dawn hours of December 18, 2001, were
illegal. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that the suspects’ lawyers brought that illegality to the attention of the Investigating Judge at the precautionary measures hearing, he made no pronouncement on those allegations in his resolution; therefore, the lawyers’ efforts with the judicial authority were completely ineffective at restoring the rule of law. In addition, as will be examined in the next section, insofar as the violence with which the raids and the arrests were carried out has been accredited, the Commission considers that they too were arbitrary under the terms of Articles 11(2) and 7(3) of the Convention, respectively.

47. Consequently, the Commission concludes that Bolivia violated the rights to personal liberty of 16
people101 and the right to freedom from arbitrary interference with the private life and the family of 22 people,102 as recognized at Articles 7(1), 7(2), 7(3), 7(6), and 11(2) of the American Convention, taken in
conjunction with Article 1(1) thereof.

62. As was indicated in the findings of fact, it is sufficiently demonstrated that during the raids on the
properties at which there were 22 people,148 heavily armed agents of the State employed a high degree of
physical and psychological violence, violating the right to humane treatment of everyone there, including
children. Indeed, multiple men and women were heavily beaten, had their hands restrained behind them, and were subdued face-down on the ground, where they received further physical blows. The IACHR finds in this case that, beyond a general reference to the alleged danger posed by the detainees, the State has neither argued nor demonstrated that the force used at the time of the raid was reasonable or necessary. In addition, although there is insufficient proof that the children were victims of physical violence or that they were handcuffed or abducted, it has been demonstrated that they were on the premises, and it may be surmised, therefore, that they experienced fear and anguish at seeing their parents, relatives, and the adults around them suffer such mistreatment, given their particular vulnerability. Accordingly, the IACHR considers that the children present suffered, at the least, adverse effects to their psychological integrity, in violation of the special protection that they were due given their age.

65. Finally, Genaro Ahuacho Luna (a.k.a. Walter Herrera Flores, a.k.a. Walter Herrera Ríos) died while he
was imprisoned at Chonchocoro Prison, after he was admitted to the prison having sustained a severe beating and mistreatment at the hands of State agents during his arrest, without any medical history to explain what happened. There is no record that the State provided medical attention to that person prior to his death, nor has a satisfactory or convincing explanation been offered for what occurred. Therefore, the State is also responsible for violation of that person’s right to life.

66. Based on the foregoing, the Commission concludes that the State of Bolivia violated the rights to life,
to humane treatment, and to respect for privacy and dignity, as well as the duty to provide special protection
to children and the right of women to live free from violence, to the detriment of the persons mentioned in
each of the paragraphs in this section. All of the foregoing, is in accordance with Articles 4(1), 5(1), 5(2), 11,
and 19 of the American Convention, taken in conjunction with Article 1.1 thereof, and Article 7 of the
Convention of Belem do Pará.

71. Therefore, the State violated the rights to a fair trial and judicial protection recognized at Articles 8
(1) and 25 (1) of the American Convention, in conjunction with the duty to respect rights set down in Article 1 (1) thereof, to the detriment of all the petitioners in this case.166 Accordingly, the Commission finds that the failure to investigate the allegations of torture and punish those responsible in this case also constitutes a violation of the obligations set forth in Articles 1, 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and
Punish Torture, as of the time said instrument came into force for the State.


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