Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
- Constitutional Court
- The term “plurinational” is an inclusive term that refers to the multiple ethnicities that conform the State of Bolivia. It does not imply that Bolivia is a Federal State but a “plural State”.
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
The Claimant is on pretrial detention, since February 2018, at the Penitentiary Facility of Palmasola of Santa Cruz under the charge of attempted sexual assault. On April 29, 2020, the Claimant filed a petition requesting the suspension of his pretrial detention. He argued that the pretrial suspension proceeded because 1) he is in charge of his 5-year-old son; 2) the prison’s doctor has certified that he presents COVID-19 symptoms, he had to be put in isolation and, therefore, remaining in prison constitutes a high risk for his health; and 3) the victim desisted from the charges. The petition was not solved within the time limits foreseen by the law despite the Claimant’s insistence. Therefore, the Claimant filed a ‘liberty action’. The 1st instance judge upheld the Claimant’s action. The Constitutional Court confirmed that decision. It considered that the Circular TSJ/2020 should be applied. The Circular rules that in the context of the State of Emergency caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the requests for pretrial detention’s suspension must be speedily and extraordinarily assessed when they are related to the sanitary emergency.
Facts of the case
- On April 29th, 2020, the Claimant, who had been waiting for a trial for more than 2 years, requested his pretrial detention to be suspended.
- The judicial authority in charge of his case did not respond to his request. Therefore, the Claimant insisted on May 22nd and on June 3rd. Despite his insistence, no hearing was scheduled for his petition to be assessed. The Claimant argued that he is eligible for pretrial detention suspension because he is in charge of a 5-year-old child and based on Resolution 01/2020 of the ICHR, on the pandemic and human rights in the Americas.
- On June 15, 2020, and while in isolation due to a probable positive diagnostic of COVID-19, the Claimant filed a liberty action based on the unjustified delay of his case resolution. He argued that his rights to petition and due process were being violated.
- The first instance judge upheld the Claimant’s petition, considering that the delay in the resolution of the Claimant’s petition was not justifiable and violated his right to a speedy trial and liberty given that, according to law, the maximum permitted delay for scheduling a hearing of this kind is 5 days.
- The case went before the Plurinational Constitutional Court, who confirmed that decision.
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
he Court reasoned that a judicial authority should not be delayed indefinitely processing a request for pretrial detention suspension. Even though the authorities argued that all necessary notifications had not been done, it is not reasonable to delay the hearing given the right to a speedy trial of the detained person (who in this case is awaiting trial for more than two years). The Court also considered that delaying processing the request in this case was even more unreasonable since the Claimant was isolated under suspicion of being COVID-19 positive, so his right to life and health were at high risk.
Moreover, the Court considered that the judicial authority should have applied the Circular TSJ/2020. These Circular rules that in the context of the State of Emergency caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the requests for pretrial detention’s suspension must be speedily and extraordinarily assessed when they are related to the sanitary emergency and specially when the Claimant is older than 60, is chronically ill or is in charge of an underage person, which is the Claimant’s case.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Plurinational Constitutional Court confirmed the Claimant’s claim and ordered the Claimant’s petition to be immediately resolved.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to bodily integrity
- Right to life; right to due process; right to petition
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to issue requests before the authorities. Art. 24. Constitución Política del Estado (CPE). Nat Const of the State
- Right to due process, Art. 115. National Constitution of the State
- Right to life, bodily and psychological integrity, Art. 15. - National Constitution of the State
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
The Court found that it was not reasonable for a judge to delay the pretrial suspension request resolution based on the argument that the necessary notifications were not made. It is not reasonable when confronted with the rights to a speedy trial and given the fact that the rights to life and health are at risk due to the prevalence of COVID-19.