Jineth Bedoya: The woman who made Colombia withdraw from an IACHR hearing

Journalist Jineth Bedoya was kidnapped and raped by members of paramilitary groups inside a maximum security prison .

Jineth Bedoya Lima

She is one of the most visible victims of sexual assault in Colombia and she has decided not to shut up and created the "It's not time to shut up" campaign. Photo: Flickr-Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Goméz Hernández

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Leer en español: La mujer que hizo que Colombia se retirara de una audiencia de la CIDH

Jineth Bedoya is one of the most recognized journalists in Colombia. Unfortunately it is not only because of her work, but because she is one of the thousands of victims of the internal conflict. She is one of the most visible sexual victims and she has decided not to shut up by creating the "No es hora de callar" campaign.

More than 20 years ago, the current editor of the newspaper El Tiempo was kidnapped and raped by a group of paramilitaries while carrying out an investigation in the middle of the La Modelo prison in Bogotá. Her case reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and seeks to assess the responsibility of the Colombian State for the events that occurred to the journalist.

While the virtual public hearing was being held, the representative of the Andean country withdrew, challenging the magistrates by classifying them as having little objectivity and not having independence at the time of sentencing.

However, this "lack of objectivity" of 5 of the 6 judges was to express their solidarity with the victim.  Catalina Botero, dean of the Universidad de los Andes School of Law, stated in her Twitter account that "no State, that I remember, has abandoned a hearing of the Inter-American Court because it does not like the questions of the judges",  not during the Venezuela of Chávez and Maduro or the Peru of Fujimori. There is only memory of government absences before the hearings begin, but not withdrawing in the middle of one to interfere with it.

This fact leaves a precedent for the Colombian State and is a door for possible impunities within the framework of Human Rights. Something that contrasts with the complaints that Iván Duque himself has made against the Maduro dictatorship before the International Criminal Court , precisely, for the violation of the human rights of Venezuelans.

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According to experts, Colombia's decision represents, first, a delay in the sentence, while the prosecution of each judge who was challenged is resolved. This, waiting for none of the judges to withdraw from the case, which would imply a longer delay while an Ad hoc judge is appointed.

The woman behind the event

Jineth Bedoya is a Colombian journalist who on May 25, 2000, when she was just 26 years old, was tricked into going to La Modelo prison for an interview. Bedoya was investigating an alleged case of arms trafficking, disappearances and homicides involving members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. When she came to interview members of the paramilitary group in prison, she was kidnapped, tortured and raped. Her case is a symbol of the gender violence that accompanied (and accompanies) the internal conflict in Colombia.

In 2003, while she was investigating the control exercised by the FARC guerrillas in the municipality of Puerto Alvira, Meta, she was kidnapped again, but this time by the communist ideology group. After a lot of pressure from the community, the journalist was released.

She is currently the sub-editor of one of the most important and powerful media in the country and continues to seek answers to the fact of rape and torture that she experienced in 2000 and about which there are still many doubts today.

Why is she suing the Colombian State?

Despite the fact that the case was brought to the attention of the General Prosecutor's Office and the IACHR in June 2000 (the year in which the events occurred), progress has been minimal. Precisely, several organizations such as Reporters Without Borders have expressed their concern about the slow progress in these cases.

In 2014, the IACHR decided to review this case and accepted that it be considered by the inter-American courts. In 2016, Bedoya preferred not to reconcile with the State as she was not satisfied with the investigations against the perpetrators.