A four-day study visit by Bolivia’s Plural Justice, Public Ministry and State Defence Commission of the Chamber of Senators took place between 18-21 October in Madrid and Barcelona. The delegation met with representatives of the Cortes Generales and authorities of the Spanish judicial system and government.
The aim of the study visit was to enable the Bolivian delegation to learn more about the legislative and policy mechanisms adopted in Spain to select, train and appoint judges and magistrates, as well as to combat Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Bolivia is currently in the process of enacting judicial reforms in both areas and the delegation was able to hear about best practices and challenges faced in Spain, as well as to share the experiences of Bolivia on both topics.
To support the first goal of improving the quality of the justice system in Bolivia, the delegation met with a broad range of high-level representatives. These included the president and members of the Spanish Senate’s Justice Committee, staff of the Justice Committee of the Congreso de los Diputados, representatives of Spain’s principal judges associations, representatives of the Council of Magistrates and authorities and staff of the Judges School. Throughout the meetings, the interlocutors stressed the mechanisms put in place to guarantee the independence of the Spanish justice system, as well as the meritocracy-based approach to selecting and nominating judges.
In relation to the second goal of learning about how GBV is tackled in Spain, the delegation held meetings with the presidents and senators of the Spanish Senate’s equality and GBV-focused committees, the Government Delegate against GBV, the chief prosecutor against GBV, judges and staff of the Constitutional Tribunal, representatives of the Council of Magistrate’s GBV observatory and representatives of Spain’s principal association of female judges. The delegation shared the successes and challenges faced in Bolivia in the fight against GBV, and discussions centered on the importance of data collection, collaboration amongst all levels of the state and applying a gender perspective to the legal system.
The delegation returned to Bolivia full of ideas for how to continue supporting judicial reforms to improve the quality and independence of the Bolivian justice system and fight GBV. Currently, and as a result of the study visit, the Plural Justice Committee is finalising a report on the process of electing judges to high courts via general elections, which will include recommendations for changes to the process of vetting of candidates carried out by the parliament of Bolivia and next scheduled for 2023. INTER PARES will continue to support the Senate in this line of work, as well as encourage greater experience sharing in the fight to eradicate GBV.