Regarding the Recent Actions Taken by Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal

From the Steering Committee for the Trial Against Ex-President Sánchez de Lozada

Dr. Rogelio Mayta Mayta, May 21, 2007

1. On the 9th of May, Bolivia’s Constitutional Tribunal emitted an illegal sentence—more arbitrary and political than judicial—declaring that the designation of the four interim magistrates named to the Supreme Judicial Court by the President of the Republic, last December was constitutional but that the interim period of the magistrates concludes 90 days from its initiation. This last declaration is both contradictory and an example of the court over-stepping its own legal constraints.

2. The Constitutional Tribunal’s sentence contains at least four serious legal transgressions:

It is based on the Law of October 20, 1911 that was nullified (made invalid) with the State Political Constitution of 1938.

It is based on the Statute Law of Public Officials of 1999, which expressly excludes judicial branch officials including magistrates of the Supreme Court to be subject to this law. Furthermore, the Statute Law of Public Officials only applies to Officials at or below the fourth level and thus does not apply to the Maximum Executive Authority as an institution as in the case of the Supreme Court Magistrates.

Additionally, the Constitutional Tribunal should have but did not apply the law of November 20, 1883—a special norm that concerns judicial branch officials which expressly establishes that interim periods of the magistrates of the Supreme Court are not subject to a time limits but rather expire when the legislative branch names new magistrates.

Finally, the Constitutional Tribunal failed to adhere to its designated duties, making a pronouncement on an issue that no one put before its consideration. By issuing this ruling, the Tribunal is practically legislating—a power corresponding to the legislative branch, not to the Constitutional Tribunal.

3. The sentence was handed down after the magistrates authorized the search of ex-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s home in La Paz, and when it was imminent that they would allow the request for his extradition from the United States.

4. This sentence has grave consequences for the administration of justice in the country in general, and especially for the Trial of Responsibilities. A tribunal is no longer guaranteed because no actions or investigation related to the case can be carried out until new Supreme Court magistrates are named. The extreme situation could arise in which an accusation exists without anyone to try the case because a sentence must be emitted by two-thirds of the total members of the Supreme Court: 8 magistrates. Currently, only 6 are available to sit on the case (of the 8 that remain two cannot serve because of their previous relationship to the case).

5. Considering these circumstances, two actions can be taken:

It is our citizen duty to denounce the members of the Constitutional Tribunal for having committed the crime of breaching of their corresponding responsibilities, specifically their failure to follow the law.

Ask the Vice President of the Republic, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and all politicians in Parliament to quickly name new magistrates so that the Trial of Responsibilities can carry forward.

Republished from Ukhampacha Bolivia


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