Attorney at Law
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Attorney at Law
PO Box 11244, Washington, D.C. 20008-1244
Tel. (202) 674-9653, Fax. (202) 364-6188
August 5, 2006
Embassy of Bolivia
3014 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear Dr. Montenegro:
It was a pleasure to meet with you last week. Although my intention was
only to inquire about the notarization of documents for Bolivian courts, I
welcomed our discussion about the Tristan Amero (Lestat Montevideo) case.
As you are aware there are serious concerns about Mr. Amero's rights since
he was imprisoned by Bolivian authorities.
First, Mr. Amero has been denied access to legal representation, and has
had problems communicating with his mother. We have already registered
this complaint with U.S. Embassy officials. Please see the enclosed email
from Julie Grant of the US Embassy in La Paz, and the report of Roberto
Quiroz Guill‚n, regarding the confiscation of telephone calling cards
sent to Mr. Amero by his mother as "evidence". In Mr. Guill‚n's report,
please note that Mr. Amero asked the Defensor del Pueblo for help in
finding a lawyer. Mr. Amero has had great difficulty in finding a lawyer
because of his isolation from the world. It was only in the last week or
so that we have succeeded in finding a lawyer who could gain access to
Mr. Amero. I have personally tried on three different days to contact Mr
Amero having been authorized to do so by his family and as an attorney,
but have never been permitted to speak with him. Each time I identified
myself as an attorney, and each time, the guards told me to call
"tomorrow" and would give no further explanation.
Mr. Amero's incommunicado detention violates his right to legal
representation guaranteed by Article 14(3)(d) of the International
Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR"), article 8(2)(d) of the
American Convention on Human Rights, and article 11(1) the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which reflects customary international law.
The individuals involved in perpetuating this violation are also
committing an international crime under article 67(1)(d) of the Statute
of the International Criminal Court.
In addition, we understand that all of Mr. Amero's money was
confiscated. We hereby request an accounting of the property of Mr.
Amero that has been seized by Bolivian authorities. This includes money
and stock certificates, as well as the calling cards sent by his mother.
Mr. Amero should be allowed use his money to buy food and potable water
in Chonchocoro prison, to pay for his legal defense, and to pay for
necessary medical treatment. Such action is also denying Mr. Amero his
right to legal representation as well as his right to property under
article 21 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
Public statements by President Morales have seriously harmed Mr. Amero's
ability to receive a fair trial. The prosecutors are under significant
pressure to find Mr. Amero guilty, because the President of Bolivia
publicly announced he is guilty. Such public pronouncements jeopardize
Mr. Amero's right to be presumed innocent in article 14(2) of the ICCPR
and article 8(2) of the American Convention on Human Rights. This right
is also protected by customary international law as reflected in Article
11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Principle 36(1)
of the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under
Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.
The right to presumption of innocence requires that an individual not be
prejudged. This right requires that all public officials of the state
prosecuting an individual must not make statements expressly stating or
implying that guilt of a person who has not yet been convicted. This
principle has been interpreted as a fundamental principle which protects
everybody against being treated by public officials as if they were
guilty of an offence even before such guilt is established by a
We believe that the statements of President Morales have endangered the
life of Mr. Amero. When the crime was re-enacted, a large crowd formed,
attacking Mr. Amero with sticks and rocks. The re-enactment had to be
cancelled that day. We understand that a reward has been offered for
the murder of Mr. Amero, who has been justifiably afraid to leave his
prison cell. Someone recently threw a dead rat into his cell. The
right to security of person is found in Article 10 of the ICCPR as well
as Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 7 of
the American Convention on Human Rights, and Article XXV of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. We ask that the prison
authorities keep Mr. Amero segregated from other prisoners, who may have
been motivated by the President's statements.
We also understand that Bolivian law does not permit the defense to have
access to exculpatory evidence possessed by the prosecution, and that
hearsay evidence is admissible to some extent in Bolivian courts. Such
practices raise serious concerns about whether the Bolivian courts can
provide Mr. Amero a fair trial. Please be kind enough to provide us
further information about both these issues.
It is in your government's interest to ensure that Mr. Amero's human
rights are respected and that any legal procedure he will face complies
with international standards for fair trials. You failure to do so will
give rise to the international responsibility of your government and may
also create criminal and civil responsibility for the individuals
involved in violating Mr. Amero's human rights.
Bolivia ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on 20 June 1979
and deposited this instrument a month later. Bolivia has also declared
that it recognizes the jurisdiction of the Inter- American Court of Human
Rights under article 62. In reference to the ICCPR, Bolivia has ratified
both the treaty and the 1st Optional Protocol on 12 November 1982 and is
therefore amenable to individual complaints. Also note that the
circumstances described herein indicate that this may be a case of
arbitrary detention that can immediately be brought to the attention of
the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
I hope that to ensure Mr. Amero's human rights you will allow me and
other human rights defenders to visit him in prison and to observe the
conditions of his imprisonment. Thank you for your prompt consideration
of these matters and for your timely reply.
Attorney for Dawna Scheda
cc: Dawna Scheda, Rigoberto Paredes, Marshall Derks, and Julie Grant.