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Revictimised: Colombian journalist called to stand for 12th time

Journalist Jineth Bedoya has had to give over 11 accounts of her abduction, torture and sexual assault at the hands of Colombian paramilitaries. On 1 March, she must testify again. IFEX and FLIP are calling on the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, the IACHR and the judge overseeing the trial to ensure that this time, justice is served.

FLIP's Pedro Vaca and Jineth Bedoya Lima participate in the 157th Ordinary Session of the IACHR
FLIP's Pedro Vaca and Jineth Bedoya Lima participate in the 157th Ordinary Session of the IACHR

IFEX - the global network defending and promoting free expression - and the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) are asking for justice in the trial against the alleged perpetrators of crimes against journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima.

Jineth Bedoya is a Colombian journalist and human rights activist, known for reporting on Colombia's paramilitary groups and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). In 2000 she was abducted, tortured and sexually assaulted by paramilitaries. Then in 2003, she was abducted by the FARC. Bedoya's story has become synonymous with the impunity and corruption that is entrenched in the Colombian judicial system; her struggle is featured as an emblematic case in IFEX's No Impunity campaign.

The prosecution has been negligent in presenting evidence: the testimonies that are fundamental to the case, as well as medical analyses, were presented 10 years after the crimes were committed. Since 2012, three former paramilitaries have been charged as part of the criminal proceedings. However as of 2016, only two of them have been sentenced for Jineth's abduction, and only one for the crime of sexual assault. None of the criminal masterminds behind the attacks have been prosecuted.

In the nearly 17 years that the judiciary has spent ineffectively investigating and prosecuting these crimes, several people involved – both as perpetrators and as witnesses - have died or eluded the authorities. Several State officials linked to the crimes have not been prosecuted. This is indicative of that fact that the two sentences issued thus far in the case are not enough to expose the full truth and to achieve justice.

The investigation into the sexual assault committed against Bedoya has lacked diligence and compliance with international standards that should be adhered to while investigating this type of crime.

In the nearly 17 years that the judiciary has spent ineffectively investigating and prosecuting these crimes, several people involved have died or eluded the authorities.

To this date, Bedoya has given over 11 depositions and accounts of what happened to her. On multiple occasions, she has had to describe what happened in May 2000 and the acts of sexual violence committed against her. In August 2016, the prosecutor in the case against alleged perpetrators Alejandro Cárdenas Orozco and Jesús Emiro Pereira – as well as the defence – asked for a new testimony by the victim. The judge accepted this request, and on 1 March 2017, Bedoya will provide testimony yet again.

This revictimisation and the fact that Bedoya will have to retell the story of her kidnapping, torture and sexual assault in front of her offenders ignores national and international standards that protect the rights of women who have been victims of sexual violence. Despite this – and in addition to the physical and emotional suffering that this situation has caused her – Bedoya has decided to testify once more to set a precedent on the mistakes that the Colombian State has committed in her case, as well as in many other trials related to sexual violence.

Taking into account the seriousness of these events that perpetuate impunity in the case of journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima, and the revictimisation that this causes, IFEX calls on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to give a clear and public position on these matters, and calls on the Colombian Attorney General's Office to ensure that justice is served. We hope that this case advances positively towards the acknowledgement of the truth and the condemnation of all material and intellectual perpetrators involved, including all officials and former state officials.

Sincerely,

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