BOLIVIA: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

Bolivia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), including all its three Optional Protocols. The CRC, which takes precedence over national laws, can be directly enforced in the courts and has been cited widely in judgments. The courts accept complaints by children which must be brought with the help of a parent or legal representative, and the courts can appoint alternative legal representatives in case there is a conflict of interest between the child’s views and those of his or her parents. Constitutional complaints regarding children’s fundamental rights can be lodged directly with the Plurinational Constitutional Court and challenges do not necessarily have to involve child victims, as collective action can be brought by anyone to enforce collective rights. A new Child Code was adopted in 2014, further ensuring children’s right to participate actively in judicial proceedings concerning them. An Ombudsperson for children provides free legal assistance. Once domestic remedies have been exhausted, children may submit complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child under the third Optional Protocol to the CRC on a complaints procedure. There are wide-spread issues in Bolivia regarding the enforcement of laws and corruption, and the judiciary is weak and overburdened. These problems are furthered by the distinct cultural traditions which exist in Bolivia’s poor rural communities.

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