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September 2, 11

NEWS / UN human rights chief lauds conviction of high-level Bolivians for serious crimes


2 September 2011 –
The United Nations human rights chief today welcomed the decision by Bolivia’s top court to convict several high-level officials for their part in the deaths of over 60 people during anti-government protests in 2003, calling it an important step in the fight against impunity.

In what became known as “Black October,” 69 people were left dead and over 400 injured when, over a period of several days, soldiers repeatedly fired on crowds demonstrating against a government plan to build a gas pipeline through El Alto, near La Paz.

After a trial that lasted two years, five senior military officers this week received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years, while the former Ministers of Sustainable Development and of Employment were sentenced to three years each.

“I commend the Bolivian Supreme Court for its decision, which is an important step in the fight against impunity,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news release.

“I also urge the Government to take all necessary steps to ensure victims and their relatives receive suitable reparations and redress.”

Ms. Pillay noted that a number of Latin American countries have been demonstrating to the rest of the world that it is possible not just to move from dictatorship to democracy, but also to bring justice – no matter how powerful or influential those responsible for human rights violations may be, and irrespective of their civilian or military status.

“I hope this trend continues and gathers even more momentum,” she said, citing recent developments such as the in Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala and Colombia.

“Those who carry out torture, extrajudicial killings and other such crimes on other continents would do well to reflect on this very healthy and accelerating trend towards combating long-standing impunity in Latin America,” she stated.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=39433&Cr=Bolivia&Cr1=

 




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