HHR Pro Bono Team Leads Groundbreaking Human Rights Case Against Bolivia Before The Inter‑American Court Of Human Rights

Published date06 April 2022
Subject MatterGovernment, Public Sector, Human Rights
Law FirmHughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
AuthorMs Elizabeth Solander, Diego Dur'n De La Vega, Shayda Vance and Alyssa M. Johnson

April 1, 2022 - Earlier this week, an HHR pro bono team led a hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) in the case of Brisa De Angulo Losada v. Bolivia, a groundbreaking case on sexual violence in Bolivia. This case provides the IACtHR with the opportunity to expand and deepen jurisprudence on sexual violence against children and adolescents, particularly in cases of incest. It began in the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights over a decade ago and the hearing was the culmination of years of effort to hold the State accountable for its actions.

At the age of 16, Brisa was repeatedly sexually abused by an older cousin. When she summoned the courage to report the abuse, she faced hostility and challenges to her character from police, medical officers, judges and other court personnel, who questioned whether she could have been raped because she had such a "strong personality." The forensic exam was conducted by a doctor, accompanied by several male students, who forced Brisa to take off her clothes and laughed at her when she cried, asking for the examination to stop. The prosecutor accused Brisa of lying and said she would ruin her family by reporting the rape by an older cousin. The judge in her case suggested this was a "family matter" and reprimanded Brisa when she began to cry during her testimony. Her family was threatened, their home was set on fire and attempts were made on their lives while the State made no attempt to ensure their safety.

The case alleges violations of Brisa's human rights under the American Convention of Human Rights, to which Bolivia is a signatory. Bolivia effectively denied Brisa justice after she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by an adult family member and became an active participant in her suffering by re-victimizing her throughout the process. As Sylvia Mesa Peluffo...

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