Press briefing note on Bolivia, 25 October 2019
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 25 October 2019
We are concerned by reports of violence and excessive use of force in Bolivia following the elections last Sunday.
The uncertainty surrounding the results have triggered protests in several cities across the country, which have resulted in clashes between opposing groups, and between protesters and security forces. We have reports of police using force against protesters, including with tear gas, in a manner that may violate basic principles on the use of force.
According to the Special Force to Combat Crime, at least 80 people have been detained and 19 police officers have been injured during clashes. Preliminary data from the Ministry of Interior indicates that at least eight civilians have been injured in the context of confrontations.
We remind the authorities that the use of force during demonstrations should only be applied in exceptional circumstances, in accordance with applicable international norms and standards, including the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. All allegations of misconduct by security forces or acts of violence, should be investigated in a prompt thorough, independent and impartial manner.
We urge demonstrators to express their grievances peacefully, without resort or incitement to violence.
We remind the authorities of their obligation to respect the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to distinguish between violent actors and peaceful demonstrators.
We call on all actors, including political leaders and their followers, to exercise restraint in order to reduce tensions, and to urgently engage in a genuine and meaningful dialogue to address their political disagreement. Otherwise, there is a serious risk the situation will spiral out of control.
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