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Bolivia Table of Contents


Military Justice

As revised by the Banzer government, the 1978 Penal Code defined and established military jurisdiction over actions against the security of the state and against military personnel and property. It also established the military court system. The members of the FF.AA. are subject to certain military laws and regulations, which include the special Military Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Military Procedure. The Military Criminal Code establishes the death penalty for treason in its various forms, including disloyalty and espionage. FF.AA. members who commit criminal acts in the exercise of their specific functions are subject, depending on the nature of the offense, to military tribunals, which include disciplinary tribunals and courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and courts of nullity, without the intervention of the Supreme Tribunal of Military Justice.

Military justice matters are adjudicated by the Permanent Tribunal of Military Justice and, in the highest instance, by the Supreme Tribunal of Military Justice, both of which were headed by generals in the late 1980s. Some military cases may be adjudicated by civilian courts once the defendants have been expelled from the FF.AA. For example, a group of five army officers, headed by the commander of the Seventh Division in Cochabamba, was dishonorably discharged from the army in October 1988 after being caught protecting drug traffickers. Their case was turned over to civilian authorities three months later. In wartime, however, the military court has jurisdiction over the entire territory of the republic. Even in times of peace, territories declared to be military zones fall under military jurisdiction, although in practice the standards of military criminal justice generally have not been applied in trying civilians.

Data as of December 1989