Thor Halvorssen created the Human Rights Foundation in 2005. One of the very first projects that the foundation worked on was human rights violations in Bolivia. The foundation was very concerned about reports of lashing, stoning, burning, hanging, beating and lynching coming out of the country. The foundation working alongside others was able to get Cuban exile Amauris Sammartino political asylum in Norway even though he had chosen to spend the last seven years living in Bolivia.
In the eight years since their initial report little has changed under the leadership of President Evo Morales. Human right supporters still have to be very careful in Bolivia about the way that they speak out. A national vote did not pass that would have allowed Evo to run for a fourth term as president, so there is hope that the May 2019 election will bring reform.
The political system within the country continues to be undermined by corruption, delays and political interference. This is especially true in the military. A National Justice Summit was held in 2016 resulting in a call for more supervision of court judges. Many human rights advocates, however, remain unconvinced that there will be any real change.
Over 69 percent of the people held in Bolivia’s prisons have not been charged with any crime. Over 4,500 people have seen a reduction in the amount of time that they are waiting before sentencing according to official documents.
The government has passed laws that they can withdraw the permit of any nongovernmental organization that they do not like. The government has said that some organizations are not acting in the best interests of the Bolivian people, but they refuse to say which ones. The government has also stated that some journalists are spreading lies.
Thor Halvorssen continues to watch the situation in Bolivia very carefully. He is an outspoken critic of human right violations wherever they occur. Thor is proud to work alongside men like Amauris Sammartino who have spoken out about conditions in his native Cuba and in Bolivia.