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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2006, 18:03 GMT
Have Your Say: Bolivian justice
Women in traditional clothes at a market in Bolivia

Traditional community justice is getting a new lease of life under Bolivia's new indigenous president.

Three lashings of the whip is more likely than prison in some areas and will soon be an equally valid punishment.

We asked for your comments following our programme and this is what you had to say.


The whole concept of making the ancient Indian values more important then any current values is just part of the strategy of the government to dismantle the occidental structure which defines Bolivia. They have talked of changing the flag, the anthem and everything which represents the republic. As with Agrarian reform it all has to do with power and achieving it at all cost. Community justice is directly related to whiplashing, at least here in Cochabamba where we have news of this happening almost every week, yet the government doesn't do anything to stop this from happening, it has other priorities.
Bernardo, Cochabamba, Bolivia

It is odd that the article shifts from the discussion of traditional rule of law to lynching as if these two are the same. They are not. In fact, lynchings have most commonly happened in urban settings, not in the countryside. And they have most often been the result of angry mobs in neighbourhoods where people have little hope of seeing a police presence - and this has happened across the globe. These are not indigenous traditions "gone too far"; they are crimes, and are seen as such by local authorities and by the current government. I for one, have not yet heard Evo Morales ever say that lynchings were remotely acceptable.
Claire, Miami, US

Listen to the few brave Bolivian women who have posted on this site. This "new-brand" of so-called justice is one of the many horrible mistakes committed in South America by its leaders today. They are plunging our continent to into barbarism. And those who call this move "progressive" should call the stoning of women in Islamic countries a "progressive" punishment to. It's the same travesty of justice. It saddens me to read the posts of some European readers, who had all the benefits of a good education (more so than Bolivia and Argentina combined), yet being so idiotic in their remarks.
Alejandro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The result will be mob rule - not democracy
Jorge, Manchester
Those who, from the safety of their developed world situation have made comments in support of this are simply out of touch with reality. Unfortunately, the programme itself failed to put the case for human rights strongly, no doubt for the sake of "impartiality". The proposals are barbaric, the government that is pushing them, populist, improvised and incompetent. The result will be mob rule - not democracy. The losers will be all Bolivians - but particularly the poorest, indigenous ones on whose side the government purports to be.
Jorge, Manchester

Having someone beat you with a whip is not right. It should be illegal to hit kids anyway. Most parents would take advantage of this action and hit the kid more then what they should. Whoever made this rule up should be beaten like that with a whip and see how they would like it. That's just my opinion and I'm only 13 years old.
Francisca Salinas, Houston, Texas

If the choice is between traditional justice and none at all, I prefer the traditional option
Michael, Glasgow
I personally believe that justice should be dispensed by the state and by trained people. However, we must remember not all countries are lucky enough to have such a system in place or can afford to. Yes, I'm sure there will be "miscarriages of traditional justice" but if the choice is between traditional justice and none at all, I prefer the traditional option.
Michael, Glasgow

The indigenous people of the world are advanced in many areas compared to our "white society". If it works, go with it.
Wayne Davey, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I find it interesting that so many people have posted comments in support of this system of justice yet whenever a comment is made about the US justice system it is described as barbaric because it includes the potential for the death penalty. The US system requires defence attorneys at the state's expense if the accused can not afford one and includes an extensive appeals process. There seems to be a double standard here.
Steve, Chicago, US

Community justice has been recognized in the constitution since 1994, as long as it respects the Bolivian Fundamental Law and Human Rights. But the current so called "indigenous" government is putting even those basic values in question, with the argument that they represent Colonialism. This is why we are on the verge of losing fundamental rights in the name of social inclusion and revolution (and yes, death penalty is accepted among indigenous fundamentalists!). This is well known, but not enough to make the international community understand the dangers of allowing those ideas to grow.
Cecilia, La Paz, Bolivia

The system sounds OK in theory, but will justice really happen? What if a person is accused of a crime that he or she did not commit, but it is his or her word against a powerful group of village leaders? This system may benefit some groups but not all. I fear that women will lack protection and there will be more human rights violations.
Anon, Asia

I applaud the courage of the Bolivian government to take this progressive step. We have seen the downward spiral of violence and crime increase in Britain - it has been made worse by the restrictions on parents should they use corporal punishment on unruly children. Many young people are out of control - "feral" is a word recently used to describe young thugs creating mayhem on the streets. Lets ignore the EU and reinstate the birch here - it would do what ASBOs are failing to do, and help make our streets safe again.
Donald Morrison, Lochgilphead, Argyll, Scotland

Stop romanticising ancient traditions
Ana, Bolivia
No, most Bolivians do not support lynching, whipping or any other sort of barbaric punishment. Burning people alive, killing people with rocks, killing people by hitting them, whipping girls who seek their own freedom, whipping women who commit adultery, whipping a person by mistake. I wonder if any of you who says we should accept this would like such fate? Stop romanticising ancient traditions which were left behind due to their barbaric and inhumane treatment of men and women.
Ana, Bolivia

They ought to bring the whip to the UK, as well as permitting parents to smack children who are naughty. Unfortunately the PC (Politically Correct), LC (Liberally Correct) and RC (Religiously Correct) have all undermined our own system to the point where do-gooders rule and rapists, arsonists, muggers and murderers are let out of prison early - if they even go there. We should bring back hanging too and I am not listening to the argument that mistakes will be made. Bring back corporal punishment and the few innocents that die will be worth the thousands that live.
Adrian, Reading

What good is a Western judicial system if it lets you rot for 10 years in prison without trial?
Bry de Serrato, Brussels
My personal thoughts are that it is Draconian. Yet I live in a community with an adequately functioning Western judicial system. An imposed Western system that is severely under-funded, corrupt, lacks transparency and frankly doesn't work in developing countries though is much harsher than immediate local justice systems that carry cultural legitimacy and efficiency. What good is a Western judicial system if it lets you rot for 10 years in prison without trial?
Bry de Serrato, Brussels

It's as barbaric as executing someone.
Giles Clark, Bangkok

If it's what the Bolivian people want, then there should be no problem with it. It's no other country's responsibility to decide how Bolivia punishes its own people.
Warren Hendricks, Eugene, Oregon, US

Actually, I think that they have a good point. Out of context it sounds barbaric, but it has to be accepted that our way of dealing with these things doesn't necessarily work in other places.
Lisa, Kyoto

Adrian and Donald you are confusing parent smacking with whipping. These whips can actually cut through your skin and make you bleed. That's what you want for your children? In Bolivia, smacking children is allowed. However, no loving parent would want to cut through their children's skin.
Ana, Bolivia


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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