Chapare, Bolivia Community Charges Torture and Human Rights Violations by US-funded Anti-Drug Force 1/26/01

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(bulletin from the Andean Information Network)

According to denunciations from the Nueva Tapacari Community in the Chapare coca-growing region, an UMOPAR (US-funded anti-drug police) unit occupied the region, beat residents and forcibly took them to nearby hills. UMOPAR agents interrogated them about the whereabouts of police officer Silvano Arroyo, reported missing since October 10, 2000. Apparently no one was detained during this mission. Representatives of the Chapare Human Rights Ombudsman's office (Defensor del Pueblo) confirmed the presence of approximately 50 armed UMOPAR officers and four plainclothes agents leaving the area at 1:30pm.

Affected individuals include:

  • Nicolas Coaquira Jachacata -- Medical certificate issued by the forensic doctor of Bolivian Ministry of Justice, Justice and Human Rights Center confirms swelling and bruising on the nape of his neck, back, both thighs, right arm and possible multiple fracture of his right hand.
  • Benancio Mamani Morales -- Representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office confirmed evidence of blows to his hands, back and other parts of his body.
  • Casiano Inocente Mamani -- Medical certificate issued by Ministry of Justice forensic doctor verifies swelling of the back of his right hand, the inability to move his fingers, (indicating a possible fracture), severe bruising on the inside of his left leg, and bruising near his left ear.
  • Ponciano Quispe Ticona
  • Valentina Quiroz and her 10 year-old son
It is important to note that UMOPAR carried out this mission without the presence of a prosecutor, although Bolivian law requires one to be present.

The absence of prosecutors, torture, and illegal detentions have characterized UMOPAR-led search missions for the missing and murdered officers since their initiation in October of last year. It is essential that Bolivian police forces and prosecutors respect clearly established legal norms in their investigations and respect the constitutional guarantees of all detainees, suspects and residents of the region.

HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVERS ATTACKED:

A shot was fired at Dr. Godofredo Reinicke (Chapare Human Rights Ombudsman) and his legal assistant, Silvano Arancibia (the bullet barely missed Arancibia), as they entered the region on foot with two residents to investigate the denunciations.

After several hours in the region they discovered that all the tires on their jeep had been punctured.

They were later denied access to the UMOPAR anti-drug base in Chimore for over an hour, although Bolivian law mandates that representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman's office must be allowed immediate entry into all government offices.

These incidents indicate the continuation of a disturbing pattern of harassment and lack of respect for human rights monitors, as well as obstruction of their investigations that began during the national road blockades in September and October of last year.

The following help is needed from the international community:

  • Pressure the Bolivian Government to guarantee the safety of human rights monitors and allow them to carry out investigations ithout impediments or harassment.
  • Insist that Bolivian security officers and legal representatives carry out all investigations within the established legal framework, respecting due process and international human rights treaties.
  • Insist that UMOPAR and other security officers who violate these norms face appropriate legal consequences in the civilian court system, instead of internal disciplinary action.
  • Insist that the US government withhold funding for any unit of the security forces (such as UMOPAR) that commit gross human rights violations when there is no evidence that sufficient steps are being taken to bring the individuals responsible to justice (as stipulated by the Leahy Amendment).
(Visit AIN at http://www.scbbs-bo.com/ain/ online, or e-mail [email protected] for further information.)

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Issue #170, 1/26/01 Strange Days in the Land of Enchantment: Drug Reform Groups Play Key Role as Battle Over Gov. Johnson's Package Heats Up | Pataki Fleshes Out Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Package | Clinton Commutes a Few More Drug Sentences at Last Minute | Columbia: New Administration in Washington, Same Old Game? | Chapare, Bolivia Community Charges Torture and Human Rights Violations by US-funded Anti-Drug Force | New RAND Study Finds Federal Agencies Overstate Drug Treatment and Prevention Spending | Belgium Decriminalizes Marijuana for Personal Use, Users Must Grow Their Own or Buy it in the Netherlands, Says Government | New Zealand Parliament Again Reviewing Cannabis Laws | Bush on Drugs: The New President Speaks Up to CNN | Calling All Activists: Ashcroft, Hemp | The Reformer's Calendar: LA, Philly, Portland, New York, DC, SF, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Fort Bragg, Miami, Amsterdam, New Delhi
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