Note: This report was updated 4/13/17; see Appendix F: Errata for more information.
Bolivia is a constitutional, multiparty republic with an elected president and a bicameral legislature. In October 2014, in a process deemed free but whose fairness was questioned by international observers, citizens re-elected President Evo Morales Ayma, leader of the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS), for a third term. On February 21, the government held a referendum to allow the president a fourth term in office. Citizens voted the measure down in a process that international observers deemed mostly fair and free.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most serious human rights problems included severe restrictions on freedom of press and association and the use of the judiciary to limit independent media outlets and political opposition. Widespread corruption and inefficiency in the country’s law enforcement and judicial system, leading to denial of a fair and timely public trial, and harsh prison conditions were also rampant.
Additional human rights problems included abuse by police and military officials, lack of government transparency, violence against women, trafficking in persons, vigilante justice, poor labor conditions, and child labor. Despite recent legislative advances, societal discrimination continued against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Discrimination affected other vulnerable groups, including women, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, individuals with disabilities, indigenous persons, and those with HIV/AIDS.
Although the government took steps in some cases to prosecute security service and other government officials who committed abuses, inconsistent application of the law and a dysfunctional judiciary led to impunity.