Corrupt fighting the corrupt in Bolivia? Majority of prosecutors linked to crimes

A recent Senate resolution calls on Bolivia's attorney general to suspend the 300 public prosecutors who have been formally accused of corruption or some other offense.

David Mercado/Reuters
The spot where the Bolivian government begin building the 'Big house of the people,' an extension to the presidential palace, is pictured in La Paz, October 31, 2014.

• Insight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Opinions are the organization's own.

According to Bolivia's Congress, there are some 300 public prosecutors who are currently under investigation for allegedly committing a crime, a figure that suggests a high degree of judicial corruption in the Andean country. 

This number comes from a resolution written by a conservative party senator, first presented in August and approved by the Senate on Oct. 30, La Razon reported. The resolution called on Bolivian Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero to suspend around 300 public prosecutors – nearly 60 percent of the country's prosecutors – who had been formally accused of corruption or some other offense.

In August, Mr. Guerrero said that about 200 of Bolivia's 508 public prosecutors were facing disciplinary action and that "some other quantity" were the focus of a criminal investigation. He said some 45 prosecutors had already been disbarred in 2014 – nearly double the 26 who were removed from their posts the previous year. 

The province of La Paz, home to the country's capital, has the greatest number of pending disciplinary actions against prosecutors, followed by Santa Cruz, a troubled region that is a hub for transnational drug trafficking and organized crime.   

InSight Crime Analysis

As noted by the US State Department in its most recent drug control report, accusations of corruption are "frequent and often unaddressed by an already strained judiciary" in Bolivia. The report also observed that in 2013, most cases involving the arrest and investigation of corrupt officials were not related to drug trafficking. This seems like an obvious area where the Attorney General's Office could probe more deeply, given that judicial corruption is one of a range of conditions in Bolivia that have put it at risk of becoming a new hub for the transnational drug trade.

Rooting out corrupt prosecutors isn't the only challenge facing Bolivia's judiciary. The country must also deal with its overcrowded and violent prisons, which are barely controlled by the official authorities, as InSight Crime saw first-hand during a visit to Bolivia's most violent prison earlier this year. 

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