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Bolivia[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

Summary and Analysis

Bolivia was the eighth country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the child, formally adopting it in its Ley de 14 mayo 1990 (Law of May 14, 1990).  It should be noted that Bolivia legal system does not specify the status of international agreements in the legal hierarchy, but the Ley de 14 mayo 1990 declares, “para que se tenga y cumpla como ley de la República,” (“that it may be regarded and obeyed as a law of the Republic.”)[2]  Accordingly, the Convention has the legal status equivalent to a law.

In1992, the enactment of the Código del Menor (Code of the Minor) articulated many of the ideals of the Convention.[3]  However, as the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted in its 1993 comments, the new code failed to incorporate all of the convention's principles.[4]  One of the tenets excluded was Article 12, which gives children the right to voice their opinions in all proceedings affecting them.

Bolivia took the committee's criticisms seriously, passing the Código del niño y adolescente (Code of the Child and Adolescent) of 1999, which effectively enacted all of the convention's principles.  The new code conveyed the ideas of Article 12 most directly in Article 38, which states:

The child, always as possible given his age and degree of maturity, and, in all cases, the adolescent should be heard previously and his opinion shall be fundamental in the decision of the Judge.[5]

The National Social Service Secretariat, established in 1996, is responsible for formulating policy and monitoring and supervising the implementation of the Code of the Child and Adolescents and other social service policy and legislation related to minors, women, and the family.  The Under-Secretariat of Generational Affairs is also charged with the formulation and supervision of child-related policy.  The Code of the Child and Adolescent also mandated that Defensorías de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Offices of the Defense of Children and Adolescents) funded by municipalities were to offer “free and integral assistance . . . to every child and adolescent who needs it.”[6]  Municipal Social Welfare Units, controlled by the Human Development Secretariats of the provincial capitals, work with children on the local level.  Unfortunately, the Offices of the Defense of Children and Adolescents and the Social Welfare Units have overlapping functions, as do the National Social Service Secretariat and the Under-Secretariat of Generational Affairs, causing inefficiencies and significant confusion as to the responsibilities of each.

Though the Code of the Child and Adolescent began to be implemented from the moment of its authorization in 1999, its full execution could not be achieved until the recent promulgation of its regulations (passed in April of 2004) and the conversion of the Juzgados del Menor (Juvenile Judges) to Juzgados de la Niñez y Adolescencia (Judges of Childhood and Adolescence) with corresponding functions that fulfilled the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Currently, despite the explicit articulation of Article 12 in the Code, its principles have been only partially implemented.  In general, adolescents are always consulted by the judges, but children are consulted only when the case is complex.  Also, though many cases are delegated to the lawyers of the Offices of the Defense of Children and Adolescents, not every child is delegated a legal representation, and the more rural regions of Bolivia lack those offices.

Several factors may impede the implementation of the Code of the Child and Adolescent.  First, traditionally, Bolivian society, both in public proceedings and in private lives, considers children as owned by their parents rather than as individuals with rights.  Also, the system of protection is imbued with bureaucracy and highly politicized, resulting in very little professional stability and thus, officials often lack significant experience.  At the same time, there are few available financial resources, so proceedings are sluggish and some cases remain without attention.  Still, Bolivia has made significant progress in the past fifteen years and the country remains committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

Original Text

International Law

Convención sobre los derechos del niño[7], ratificada por Ley de 14 mayo 1990 [Ver abajo]

Artículo 12

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2. Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado, en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional.

Laws

Ley de 14 mayo 1990, Ley No. 1152 [8]

ARTICULO 1º.- Apruébase la suscripción de la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño de la Asamblea de las Naciones Unidas de fecha 20 de noviembre de 1989.

Ley del Código del Niño, Niña, y Adolescente de 27 octubre 1999, Ley No. 2026 [9]

ARTÍCULO 38º (INTEGRACIÓN A HOGAR SUSTITUTO).- La integración a hogar sustituto se efectiviza mediante la guarda, tutela o adopción, en los términos que señala este Código y tomando en cuenta los siguientes requisitos:

1.          El niño o niña, siempre que sea posible por su edad y grado de madurez y, en todos los casos el adolescente, deberán ser oídos previamente y su opinión será fundamental para la  decisión del Juez;

2.          Se tomará en cuenta el grado de parentesco, la relación de afinidad y de afectividad, su origen, la comunidad, condiciones culturales, región y departamento donde se desarrolla el niño, niña o adolescente;

3.          En su caso y con el fin de evitar y atenuar las consecuencias emocionales y psicológicas  emergentes de la medida, se procurará la no separación de los hermanos.

ARTÍCULO 49º (REVOCACIÓN).- La guarda podrá ser revocada mediante resolución judicial fundamentada, de oficio o a petición de parte, considerando los informes ordenados por el Juez previo requerimiento del Ministerio Público, después de haber oído al adolescente en todos los casos y al niño o niña de acuerdo con la edad y grado de su madurez.

ARTÍCULO 216º (DERECHO A LA DEFENSA).- Se prestará la asistencia gratuita e integral a todo niño, niña o adolescente que lo precise, por medio de la Defensoría de la Niñez y Adolescencia o abogado de oficio.

ARTÍCULO 217º (REPRESENTACIÓN).- Los niños, niñas o adolescentes serán representados por sus padres o responsables legales.

El Juez de la Niñez y Adolescencia proporcionará tutor especial al niño, niña o adolescente siempre que los intereses de éstos se contrapongan a lo de sus padres o responsables, o cuando carezca de representante legal, así sea eventualmente.

Decrees

Reglamento a la Ley No. 2026 Código del Niño, Niña, y Adolescente, Decreto Supremo No. 27443 de 8 de abril de 2004[10]

Artículo 92° (REMISIÓN DE ANTECEDENTES)

La autoridad judicial familiar o penal remitirá antecedentes a la Defensoría de la Niñez y Adolescencia para la correspondiente defensa o al Ministerio Público para la investigación de ley, cuando en la substanciación de un proceso se comprueben actos de maltrato o de otra naturaleza que afecten a niños, niñas o adolescentes.

Artículo 93° (ASESORAMIENTO LEGAL)

Las Defensorías de la Niñez y Adolescencia están obligadas a prestar asesoramiento y defensa legal a los adolescentes entre los 16 y 18 años, sometidos a la jurisdicción ordinaria.

Artículo 103° (AUDIENCIA PRELIMINAR)

En la audiencia preliminar, el Fiscal especializado velará porque el adolescente sea informado sobre sus derechos y cuente con defensa legal, bajo alternativa de nulidad.

Translation[11]

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [12] ratified May 14, 1990 by Law No. 1152 [See below]

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Laws

Law of May 14, 1990, Law No. 1152

ARTICLE 1. – The subscription to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the Assembly of the United Nations of the date November 20, 1989 is approved.

Law of the Code of the Child and Adolescent of October 27, 1999, Law No. 2026

ARTICLE 38 (INTEGRATION INTO A SUBSTITUTE HOME).- The integration into a substitute home can be put into effect through care, guardianship, or adoption, in the terms that this Code indicates and taking into account the following requirements:

  1. The child, always as possible given his age and degree of maturity, and, in all cases, the adolescent should be heard previously and his opinion shall be fundamental in the decision of the Judge.
  2. The degree of kinship, the relation of affinity and affection, his origin, the community, cultural conditions, the region and district where the child or adolescent grew up shall be taken into account;
  3. In his case and with the goal of avoiding and extenuating the emotional and psychological consequences emerging from the measure taken, it shall be endeavored to not separate siblings.

ARTICLE 49 (REVOCATION). – Custody is able to be revoked through a fundamental judicial resolution, by official notice or by petition of a party, considering the reports ordered by the Judge subject to summons by the Public Ministry, after having heard the adolescent in every case and the child in accordance with the age and level of maturity.

ARTICLE 216 (RIGHT TO A DEFENSE). – Free and integral assistance shall be offered to every child or adolescent who needs it, through means of the Office of the Defense of Children and Adolescents or ex officio lawyer.

ARTICLE 217 (REPRESENTATION). – The children or adolescents shall be represented by their parents or those who are legally responsible.

The Judge of Childhood and Adolescence shall provide a special guardian to the child or adolescent every time the interests of those are opposed to that of his parents or those who are responsible, or when he lacks a legal representative, and so on.

Decrees

Regulations on Law No. 2026 Code of the Child and Adolescent, Supreme Decree No. 27443, April 8, 2004

Article 92 (REFERRAL OF ANTECEDENTS)

The familial or penal judicial authority shall remit antecedents to the Office of the Defense of Children and Adolescents for the corresponding defense or to the Public Ministry for the legal investigation when, in the substantiation of a process, acts of maltreatment or of another nature that affects children or adolescents are proven.

Article 93 (LEGAL ADVICE)

The Offices of the Defense of Children and Adolescents are obligated to provide legal advice and defense to adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 years subject to common-law jurisdiction.

Article 103 (PRELIMINARY HEARING)

In the preliminary hearing, the specialized District Attorney shall make certain that the adolescent is informed of his rights and counts on a legal defense.

Local Contact Information

Viviana Farfán Andrade

Asesora para el Desarrollo de Aldeas [Children's Villages Development Adviser]

Aldeas Infantiles SOS Bolivia [SOS Children's Villages Bolivia]

Phone: (591) 2-2412343                  Fax: (591) 2-2414581

(591) 2-2117279

(591) 2-2117280

E-mail: viviana.farfan@soslawe.org.bo

www.aldeas-infantiles-sos.org/bolivia

Additional Resources and Links

UNICEF Bolivia (In Spanish and English) http://www.unicef.org/bolivia/

Defensa de Niñas y Niños Internacional ­­­­­­— Sección Bolivia (In Spanish) http://www.dnibolivia.org/index.php



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Ley de 14 mayo 1990 [Law of May 14, 1990], No. 1152, available at http://www.senado.bo/, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Ley de 18 de Diciembre de 1992, [Law of December 18, 1992] No. 1403 available at http://www.senado.gov.bo.

[4] Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Bolivia 18/02/93, Committee on the Rights of the Child, 3rd Sess., 65th mtg., at ¶8, 9, 11, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add. 1 (1993) available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf.

[5] Ley del Código del Niño, Niña, y Adolescente de 27 octubre 1999 [Law of the Code of the Child and Adolescent of October 27, 1999], No. 2026, art. 38 available at http://www.senado.gov.bo, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6] Ley del Código del Niño, Niña, y Adolescente de 27 octubre 1999, art. 216.

[7] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[8] Ley de 14 mayo 1990, No. 1152, art. 1.      

[9] Ley del Código del Niño, Niña, y Adolescente de 27 octubre 1999, art. 38, 49, 216, 217.

[10] Decreto Supremo No 27443 de 8 de abril de 2004, art 92, 93, 103, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] The translations in this document are not official ones. Additional translations of excerpts from the Code of the Child and Adolescent are available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[12] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

 

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