Supporting the development of an intercultural legal system in accordance with the rule of law

Project description

Title: Supporting the development of an intercultural legal system in accordance with the rule of law
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Bolivian Ministry of Justice (Ministerio de Justicia)
Overall term: 2010 to 2014

Context

By adopting the new Constitution in a referendum in February 2009, the Bolivian people have given their backing to the political decision to develop an intercultural legal system. A lack of consideration for distinct legal cultures, constitutional criteria and human rights up to now has intensified existing inequalities, particularly regarding the rights of indigenous communities and women.

Indigenous jurisdiction rooted in customary law is to be given the same status as formal jurisdiction based on positive law. One clear requirement is that both systems must recognise human rights.

Objective

The new justice system respects differences in legal cultures and protects fundamental and human rights.

Approach

The programme PROJURIDE (Proyecto de apoyo al desarrollo de un ordenamiento jurídico intercultural en el marco de un Estado de Derecho democrático) is a project initiated by German development cooperation that supports the development of an intercultural legal system in accordance with the rule of law. Working with the partner ministry and individuals representing the formal and indigenous justice systems, the project aims to increase respect for differences in legal cultures and to protect fundamental and human rights in the new justice system. The first stage is to strengthen the constitutional basis of the new system. Other important implementing partners include Bolivia‚Äôs Constitutional Court, mandated to guarantee the people's fundamental and human rights under all jurisdictions, and the Institute of the Judiciary, where future members of the judiciary receive training and continuing education.

The project provides a systematic and flexible combination of policy advice and technical assistance to help set in motion and support the consensus-building processes needed for developing an intercultural legal system. Advisory services are provided for what are termed 'projects for the future' in which the partners and GIZ agree on the changes they will jointly pursue, their respective inputs and the timeframe. Local subsidies are available on a limited scale to support indigenous authorities through their representative bodies.

Results achieved so far

By advising the Ministry of Justice in the preparation of draft legislation, the programme has helped ensure that adopted legislation respects differences in legal cultures and protects fundamental and human rights. The Constitutional Judges - which include women as well as men - have been trained and are applying international human rights standards in their decisions. The Ministry of Justice, again advised by the programme, is revising the human rights indicators, which so far had not been formulated in adequately precise terms.

Since the end of 2013, the programme has been advising the Ministry of Justice on implementing a new institutional and functional approach to counselling victims of injustice, particularly women who have become the victims of violent crime.

Representatives of the local indigenous and formal judicial systems have agreed on initial forms of coordination and cooperation, thereby setting the process in motion for improving access to legal justice for rural inhabitants.