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Bolivia: ICRC offers advice and expertise to Bolivian institutions

11-03-2010 Operational Update

Throughout 2009, the ICRC contributed its advice and expertise to various areas of humanitarian activity in Bolivia. Its delegates visited detainees, helped promote international humanitarian law (IHL), and trained and equipped four emergency-response teams from the Bolivian Red Cross.

  ©ICRC/C. Lombardi /    
San Pedro prison, La Paz, Bolivia. An ICRC delegate talks with guards at the gates.    
  ©ICRC/C. Lombardi /    
La Paz, Bolivia. The ICRC works alongside the members of an association of indigenous peasant women to help organize psychosocial support in Pando.    
  ©ICRC/C. Lombardi /    
La Paz, Bolivia. The ICRC trained and equipped four emergency-response teams from the Bolivian Red Cross.    

 Assessing prison health and visiting detainees  

In 2009, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the National Directorate of Prisons and the Ministry of the Interior, the ICRC provided expert advice, training and financial assistance aimed at improving the Bolivian prison system. In addition, it facilitated the sixth national conference on prison health and held a training course for health professionals working with people deprived of their freedom.

ICRC delegates carried out 11 visits to three places of detention, where they held a constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities about health-care provision and the material conditions of detention.

 Promoting IHL and human rights  

In 2009, in Santa Cruz and Sucre, the ICRC assisted the National Standing Committee for the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law in running two workshops to raise awareness of humanitarian principles across cultural divides. The ICRC provided the Committee with expert advice, training and support in promoting and implementing IHL, along with principles and rules of international human rights law relevant to the Bolivian legal system.

The ICRC also facilitated three courses on human rights within the context of police maintenance of public order, in Santa Cruz, Tarija and Pando, which were attended by 180 members of the police. Thirty police instructors were also invited, in the hope that they would convey this training to further police staff across the nine departments of the country.

In parallel, the ICRC adv ised the Ministry of Defence as it prepared to revise laws regulating the armed forces'use of force.

In 2010, the ICRC plans to facilitate four training workshops for IHL instructors, designed to accommodate 280 participants from the armed forces.

 Organizing psychosocial support in Pando  

The ICRC began developing a psychosocial support project in the department of Pando, in cooperation with indigenous communities and the Bartolina Sisa National Federation of Peasant Women of Bolivia. The aim is both to determine the psychosocial needs of those affected by the violence that broke out in September 2008 and to identify local health-care professionals capable of meeting these needs.

 Supporting forensics training  

The ICRC supported the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in training two forensic experts from the Institute of Forensic Investigations. The experts were able to participate in the third conference of Latin American and Caribbean institutes of forensic medicine, and the congress of the Latin American Forensic Anthropology Association. By enhancing the skills of forensic experts in this way, the ICRC seeks to ensure that the relatives of those who went missing in the 1970s and 1980s soon learn the fate of their loved ones.

 Training the Bolivian Red Cross  

In 2009, the ICRC helped train four emergency-response teams from the Bolivian Red Cross branches in the La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca departments. It also provided them with the necessary materials and equipment for taking action in crisis situations. Together, the ICRC and the Bolivian Red Cross raised awareness about the importance of respect for their medical and humanitarian teams, and for the Red Cross emblem.