LA PAZ – President Evo Morales signed legislation into law on Thursday strengthening Bolivia’s judicial system at a time when the courts are in the spotlight for their handling of several cases, including that of a man convicted of rape despite the existence of evidence proving his innocence.
Morales signed the legislation during a ceremony at the government palace in La Paz as judicial and political officials watched.
The president said the law’s goal was to “improve Bolivian justice” by creating a new class of constitutional courts at the provincial level.
“Sometimes the hard work of men and women committed to Bolivian justice, for whatever reason, gets destroyed,” Morales said.
The law’s enactment comes after a court on Monday upheld the 20-year prison sentence handed down to a doctor for raping an infant, a case that has sparked controversy after evidence, including an audio recording of a purported judge saying the physician was wrongly convicted, pointing to the man’s innocence appeared.
“You can have good rules, good infrastructure, but if public servants don’t do their part ... I feel that the hard work will be in vain,” the president said.
Morales said that some people who questioned measures like the reform of the Criminal Code were now “regretting it.
The president talked about the possibility of trying once again to change the code, an effort abandoned earlier this year in the wake of protests, including a six-week strike by doctors.
The government is trying to revive the initiative after a recent well-publicized episode involving a doctor accused of mistakenly removing a boy’s kidneys.
The child had one healthy kidney and a tumor on the other, and the physician had a history of malpractice but was never convicted.