Urgent Interventions

Bolivia: Ill treatment and arbitrary detentions for Bolivian film team working on educational video about sex an violence

Case BOL 040902
Abusive use of police force / Ill treatment / arbitrary detentions

The International Secretariat of the OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following case in Bolivia.

Brief description of the situation :

The International Secretariat of the OMCT has been informed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) about the abuse of police force in La Paz, Bolivia, against a film team, its actors and the public watching their work in progress on an educational video on sexual matters.

According to the information received on thursday 15 august 2002 at about 11.30 a.m., the police hit and humiliated the technical team as well as the actors working on a television series in the streets of La Paz. The series, an educational contribution conceived by the group of activists Mujeres Creando, is questionning the issues of sexuality and violence in the context of the human rights of women. Furthermore, Lidia Aguado, attorney-general, commanded the detention of María Galindo (from Mujeres Creando), Eliana Dentone (from the Chilean association of sex workers), and Carmen Sánchez (spanish sound engeneer), together with nine male actors who were naked at that moment.

According to the information received, the film team and the actors were working on an independent video production whose purpose is to draw the attention of the women and the young people of Bolivia on their fundamental rights not to be the victims of sexual violence and to be properly informed in order to take the right decisions regarding their sexuality. Nevertheless, the attorney-general’s office argued that the bolivian society “is not ready” to face those debates and that it shall consequently be “preserved” from them.

According to the reports, the police used tear gases to disseminate the people who had gathered together to watch the filming. Then, the people arrested were taken to the Policía Técnica Judicial in Avenida Pando, where the attorney-general immediately commanded that they should stay in detention for eight hours, before even reviewing the accusations. Acccording to the activists’ accusations, the attorney-general Lidia Aguad showed “clear homophobia” towards María Galindo, who is lesbian, and a “prejudicial behaviour” towards Eliana Dentone, a sex worker. Consequently, they sent a formal complaint to the authorities.

The reports state that the detentainees were locked in cells so squalid that the three women were appalled. In addition to that, they were refused medical assistance as well as wearing warmer clothes, and the actors were not allowed to get dressed, even though the women arrested had carried their clothes along. These men had to wait for Sacha Laurenti, from Human Rights, to intervene before they could get dressed two hours later. At the end, everyone was set free.

According to the reports, the Public prosecutor accused all the detainees of “obscene behaviour” (penal code art. 323) and “obscene spectacle” (penal code art. 324). Later nevertheless, the Ministry of Interior issued constitutional warranties to allow the film team to carry on with the work without suffering interferences with the authorities.

The International Secretary of the OMCT expresses its deep concern about the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees in this situation and fears that they could be the victims of further persecutions by the police. As a general fact, the OMCT condemns the offensives led by bolivian police agents against transgender persons or against persons defending sexual rights, and fears that such homophobic acts remain unpunished.

Action required :

Please write to the Bolivian authorities urging them to:

i. take immediately the adequate measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of the above mentioned detainees;

ii. act towards the appropriate authorities in order to ensure the right to freedom of expression, as protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which in art. 19 states « Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice » ;

iii. order immediately a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the events mentionned above in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with international human rights standards.


· Ministerio de Gobierno, Ministro: Sr. José Luis Lupo Flores, Fax: (+59 1) 244 25 89
· Dr. Mario Serrate Ruiz, Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos, Tel.: (+59 1) 2 36 10 37 ; Fax.: (+59 1) 2 39 29 82. e-mail :
· Sr. Alberto Leyton Avilés, Ministerio de la Presidencia, Fax: (+59 1) 2 2204157
· Sr. Gustavo Fernandez Saavedra, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, Fax: (+59 1) 2 2408642; 2408905 E-mail:
· Waldo Albarracín, Presidente de la Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia, Av. 20 de Octubre No. 2019, Edificio Jazmín, Piso 2, Of. 28, Casilla Postal 9282 A, La Paz
· Sra. Corina Machicado, Fiscal de Distrito en La Paz, Fax. (+59 1) 2 211 39 03
· Sra. Ana María Romero de Campero, Defensora del Pueblo, Edif. Illampu, 2da Mezzanine, Av. Arce No. 2132, Casilla 791, Fax: (+59 1) 2 2113538, E-mail :

· Misión Permanente de la República de Bolivia ante las Naciones Unidas, Ginebra, Suiza, Fax. : (+ 41 22) 908 07 22 ; e-mail :

Please also write to the embassies of Bolivia in your respective country.

Geneva, September 4th, 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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