28 attacks against freedom of expression documented during the first six months of 2018

Expression

The Observatorio Boliviano de Derechos Humanos (Bolivian Observatory of Human Rights) presented a report on 20th August in which it describes that during the first six months of 2018, the organisation documented 28 cases of violations to freedom of the press and expression, including 8 physical attacks, 2 cases of judicial harassment and 2 cases of censorship. According to the report, harassment of journalists has increased systematically in recent years.

In early September, President Evo Morales announced that his government is planning to put in place a law against 'lying and false information' that is distributed through the media. The National Association of the Press said that the legislation could become a "tool for political persecution". The Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) said:

 "[W]hen a president is bothered by complaints of corruption and dissenting opinions, they usually promote the passage of this kind of legislation with the intention of silencing and censoring criticism." (Translated from Spanish)

In a separate incident, during the court hearing of a doctor, Jhiery Fernández on 24th September, (described in the peaceful assembly section) journalists were harassed and assaulted by riot police who verbally attacked and harassed photographers, reporters, and various press workers.

Association

The Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia (Bolivia Permanent Assembly of Human Rights - APDHB) rejected a statement made by the Ministry of Government Carlos Romero who accused Amparo Carvajal, the Director of APDHB, of sponsoring criminal organisations allegedly involved in the  killing of one police officer during clashes with coca leaf producers. The APDHB requested that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights grant precautionary measures to Carvajal due to the risks she is facing after the accusations. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 27th September 2018, health sector workers started a protest to demand the release of Jhiery Fernandez, a doctor who is accused of abusing a newborn baby. The health workers claimed the doctor was detained without evidence. The government said that they will not pay the workers on the days they engage in the strike. This was seen as a way of pressuring them to halt the demonstrations. However representatives of the sector said that they will continue the protests until Fernandez is released.