Civil society organisation in Cochabamba harassed and forced to relocate
In early April, the civil society organisation - Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia (CEDIB) - reported harassment and threats from the rector of the state university, Universidad Mayor San Simón, where CEDIB is housed in Cochabamba. The university's rector demanded that CEDIB vacate its office in 48 hours, forcing the Centre to relocate its archives of millions of historical documents within a short time frame. The archive of eight million newspapers spanning more than 45 years of Bolivia's history and documenting human rights and social issues was recognised and honoured as Cochabamba Heritage in 2012.
On 28th April 2017, Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal on behalf of CEDIB, stating that “this action [on the part of the university] is a worrisome sign of shrinking civic space in Bolivia and it could potentially mean the loss of valuable documentation regarding human rights in the country”.
During a mid-year meeting, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) declared its concern over the hostile environment facing journalists and media professionals in Bolivia. As previously report on the CIVICUS Monitor, violations of freedom of expression increased in 2016 and the situation has not improved thus far in 2017. IAPA urged the government to ensure greater protection of journalists and media in the country.
In Freedom House's 2017 Freedom of the Press report, Bolivia dropped four points in its total score, indicating a serious decline in respect for and protection of civil and political rights.
The government has thus far refused to recognise the need to take action and address the issues impacting freedom of the press and expression in the country. Instead, on 3rd May 2017 - World Press Freedom Day - President Morales reiterated on his Twitter account that the government guarantees the right to freedom of expression, even though reports, data and cases of violations suggest otherwise.
Día Mundial de la Libertad de Prensa, #Bolivia celebra y garantiza ejercicio pleno de este derecho, pilar fundamental de nuestra democracia.— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) May 3, 2017