Authorities in Bolivia say they have dismissed 60 prosecutors for corruption this year, a sign that corruption endures within the judiciary despite government efforts aimed at addressing the issue.
Speaking at a November 15 press conference, Bolivian Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero said that 60 prosecutors had been dismissed so far this year on suspicion of corruption, out of a nationwide total of 508 officials holding this position, reported the government press agency Agencia Boliviana de Información.
Guerrero also said that 200 prosecutors are currently being investigated for various wrongdoings, ranging from minor offenses to more serious ones.
The statements came the same day that a judge ordered pre-trial detention for Ánghelo Saravia on corruption charges, marking the second time this year a former prosecutor has been sent to prison.
But the accusations of corruption within the Bolivian judiciary are not limited to prosecutors. Also on November 15, Public Security Vice Minister Juan Carlos Aparicio called for an investigation of the suspicious releases of 134 people who had been detained on criminal charges, as well as the judges who made those decisions.
InSight Crime Analysis
The dismissal of nearly 12 percent of the country’s prosecutors for alleged corruption is a positive sign that the government is intent on tackling malfeasance within the Bolivian judiciary. But attempts at structural reforms have so far failed to adequately address the issue.
The apparent government crackdown is nothing new. In October 2014, the Bolivian Congress affirmed that up to 60 percent of prosecutors — approximately 300 — were under investigation for various reasons, and demanded that Guerrero disbar these officials. Forty-five prosecutors had already been ejected from their posts by August 2014. The following year saw the dismissal of 67 prosecutors and the release of a scathing United Nations report (pdf) detailing corruption in the judicial system.
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In 2011, the government put forth a reform in an attempt to fortify transparency and undercut corruption within the institution by establishing judicial elections to fill certain offices. And in 2015, Guerrero announced the creation of a special unit tasked with reviewing the assets of public officials working within the Attorney General’s Office. But both of these attempts appear to have failed to substantially reduce corruption within the institution, and it seems that the government continues to rely on reactionary measures like fines and dismissals rather than preventative policies when it comes to confronting judicial corruption.