EL ALTO, BOLIVIA – A Bolivian police officer was arrested late last month, securing justice for his stepdaughter Grecia* and bringing proof to the entire community that no one is above the law.
The case against the police officer had been ongoing since 2008, when he was first arrested for sexually abusing his 11-year-old stepdaughter, Grecia. She moved to a children's home, where she could receive the care she needed, and he was placed under house arrest.
IJM learned about the case and championed it in the court, eager to ensure Grecia was safe and no one else had to fear this police officer who had abused his position of authority to prey on someone weaker. So in May 2011, when the court convicted the police officer and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, it was a significant victory. But there was still more work to be done to ensure the ruling was upheld.
The police officer appealed the decision; in accordance with Bolivian law, he was allowed to remain free during the entire proceeding. IJM remained committed to the case, and a year later the court upheld its earlier ruling. The police officer would face a 10-year sentence in prison for sexually abusing Grecia.
Justice had been declared, but now it needed to be enforced. Even though he was convicted, a new arrest warrant had to be issued in order to detain the police officer and bring him to jail to begin serving his sentence. Over the next month, IJM investigators helped local law enforcement plan the arrest. It would be dangerous, because the perpetrator had no other recourse but to go to jail. "Our worry was that out of fear, desperation – who knows what he could feel – that he would use his gun," said one of the IJM investigators, adding that they took every precaution as they planned.
On November 27, 2012, the police officer was arrested. At last, justice was secured for 16-year-old Grecia.
*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.