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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 16:14 GMT
Justice in Bolivia
Bolivian Aymara women shop in the streets of of Penas, some 47 kilometers (29 miles) west of La Paz
Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 23 November 2006, at 1102 GMT
On BBC Radio 4 and online

Three lashes of a whip or a prison sentence? In Bolivia both will soon be equally valid punishments depending on the crime and on where you live.

And in the marginalised neighbourhoods on the outskirts of some big cities, being burnt alive by a lynch mob is the third, most frightening possibility.

Lucy Ash travels to Bolivia where justice is in short supply.

This is one of the reasons why traditional indigenous justice, going back to pre-Inca times, is getting a new lease of life under President Evo Morales.

Another reason is President Morales's "decolonisation" project, which aims to put indigenous traditions and values on an equal footing with Western ones.

In indigenous justice, sanctions include whipping but never prison.

Will reviving it provide a much-needed complement to the failing, or absent, courts and police? Or will this risk human rights violations?

Lucy Ash investigates both systems and finds that the shortcomings of the official law enforcement are such that overcrowded prisons are run by inmates, the police do not go to remote areas, and residents of poor city outskirts take justice into their own hands, with a lynching estimated every eight days.

Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 23 November 2006, at 1102 GMT and repeated on Monday, 27 November 2006, at 2030 GMT.

Presenter: Lucy Ash
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
Editor: Sue Ellis

Crossing Continents


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