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Attorney General confirms Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya's case constitutes a crime against humanity

Jineth Bedoya (c) receives the International Women of Courage Award from US First Lady Michelle Obama (l) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in March 2012
Jineth Bedoya (c) receives the International Women of Courage Award from US First Lady Michelle Obama (l) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in March 2012

REUTERS/Gary Cameron

On 26 September 2014, the Human Rights Section of the Attorney General's Office confirmed that the May 2000 kidnapping, torture and sexual assault of journalist Jineth Bedoya constitutes a crime against humanity.

In its decision the Attorney General's Office concluded that, based on the "systematic nature of the attacks perpetrated voluntarily and deliberately by organized crime elements" against journalists, the Bedoya case constitutes a crime against humanity.

The prosecutor in charge of the case had previously come to this same conclusion in September 2012, but at that time Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre publicly released messages that contradicted the declaration of a crime against humanity. With the 26 September decision, the Attorney General's Office confirmed that the characteristics of the case and seriousness of the actions against Jineth Bedoya represent an attack on the most important human values.

The prosecutor who ratified the decision noted that the crimes against Bedoya constitute an attack on the loftiest principles of humanity, degrading those principles and profoundly impacting human dignity as well as Bedoya's status as a woman and her work as a journalist.

Furthermore, in the decision the prosecutor issued an indictment against Mario Jaimes Mejía, aka “Panadero”, as a co-conspirator in the kidnapping, torture and violent sexual assault of Bedoya.

It is important to note that on 21 July 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) declared the admissibility of a case Bedoya has brought against the Colombian State. As such, the IACHR will consider the merits of the case and determine whether the Colombian State was in any way responsible for the events that took place 14 years ago.

On 21 August, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos designated 25 May, the anniversary of the crimes against Bedoya, as a national day of dignity for victims of sexual violence in the context of the Colombian armed conflict, recognizing the work undertaken by Bedoya in the fight against this type of violence.

FLIP welcomes the decision of the Attorney General's Office and hopes the first trial against the long list of those who played a part in the crime will be initiated in the coming months.

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