Bolivia’s Attorney General’s Office dismissed or sanctioned more than 100 of its employees in 2015 for various transgressions, pointing to the pervasiveness of corruption within the institution, but also to an increasing vigilance when there is official misbehavior.
Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero announced on state television that 67 of the 500 prosecutors in his office had been dismissed due to accusations of corruption. The dismissals resulted from a range of complaints, including “ill treatment” of litigants, bribe-taking, lack of adherence to investigative requirements, missed deadlines and delays in filing charges, according to La Razón.
Guerrero also said that an additional 41 officials had been sanctioned with reductions of between five and 40 percent of their salaries for other misdeeds on the job, which he did not specify.
The attorney general announced that the agency would replace the dismissed prosecutors with 60 newly certified lawyers who will be “proven, appropriate and have professional ethics.”
Additionally, Guerrero emphasized that his office exists to serve the public.
“The service that the Attorney General’s office provides is totally free,” he said. “It is not permitted to charge people even one cent.”
InSight Crime Analysis
There two very different ways to read this purge. Although the dismissal or sanctioning of more than 13 percent of federal prosecutors suggests the continued existence of widespread corruption in public institutions, the dismissals might also serve as a sign that the Bolivian government does not intend to tolerate official malfeasance.
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The anti-corruption actions may also reflect an increasing awareness of the role corruption has played in Bolivia’s growing involvement with the regional drug trade. As InSight Crime reported, early last year Bolivia’s anti-corruption ministry began investigating allegations of illicit enrichment among dozens of police and judicial officials. In March, the attorney for the district of La Paz, Patricia Santos, was removed from her position along with several other prosecutors facing a large number of accusations of misconduct.
The drive to root out corruption appears to extend beyond the judiciary. In March of last year, the former head of Bolivia’s anti-narcotics police, Oscar Nina, was arrested on suspicion of illicit enrichment and ties to the drug trade. And late last week, the Attorney General’s Office announced charges of embezzlement and illicit enrichment against the head of the armed forces, Gonzalo Durán.